Phil Annarella legacy scholarship outing set for July 1 at Pine Lakes


The “Phil Annarella Legacy Scholarship” golf outing, presented by Game Changers, is set for July 1 at Pine Lakes Golf Course in Hubbard. 


The golf package includes an 18-hole golf scramble, cart rental, lunch provided by Chick-fil-A, and dinner by Outback Steakhouse with a choice of beverages as the organization awards up to six, $1,000 scholarships with monies raised.

Scholarships are awarded to individuals who, despite wins or adversities, exemplify character, great work ethic and a determination to never throw in the towel for the people and goals of which they are most passionate. 

Various hole contests including longest drive and closest to the pin, among others, as well as skins are included in the package with first prize ($500), second prize ($250) and third prize ($100) awarded to the top three finishers.

On September 6, 2019, Game Changers renamed its annual scholarship in memory of Annarella for his dedication to student-athletes across the United States.

On a more personal note, the golf outing was renamed in honor of the longtime football coach’s years of support and mentorship to its founder and executive coach, Michael Engram, and the inception of the Game Changers organization until his passing on June 4, 2019.

“Phil and I met in 1975 at The Rayen School when I was hired as athletic director and baseball coach, and Phil as the Tigers’ head football coach,” longtime friend and scholarship committee member Thomas ‘Tim’ Kempe said. “We began our teaching and coaching careers together and became best of friends.

“The fundraising committee is made up of family, friends, former players and coaches. We all share a common bond and want to create this scholarship to recognize the impact he made on student-athletes. He cared so much about his players and coaches and gave his heart and soul to coaching them. Various people become a part of your life and Phil’s friendship will forever be a part of mine. He gave so much of himself to coaching while stressing character, discipline, citizenship, and responsibility-accountability, traits he stressed throughout his own life.”

Annarella is considered one of the best scholastic football coaches to roam the Mahoning Valley sidelines.

A 1966 graduate of Union High School and 1970 graduate of West Virginia University, he began a well-documented teaching-coaching career that began in 1970 when he served as assistant football coach at East Jr. High in East Liverpool.

From 1971-72 he was head coach at Westgate Junior High, also in East Liverpool, moving over to the high school ranks where he served as an assistant on the Potters’ gridiron staff from 1973-76.

He accepted his first head coaching position at The Rayen School in Youngstown, leading the Tigers to an 11-8-1 overall mark (1976-77) during his two seasons at the helm.

After working his magic with the Tigers, he became the defensive coordinator at Western Reserve High School (1978-81), becoming their head coach in 1981.

From 1981-89 he guided the Raiders to a 59-30-2 overall mark and in 1990, was selected as head coach of the newly consolidated Warren G. Harding Raiders.

It did not take long for the two schools to come together and play as one under Annarella’s tutelage as they won the 1990 Division I state title, also producing a No. 5 overall national ranking from USA Today.

He remained with the Raiders through the 1996 campaign and led WGH to a 51-23 overall mark during his tenure.

In 1998 he became the head coach of Hickory H.S. in nearby Hermitage, PA – he was 20-20 overall – and in 2002, returned to his Ohio-coaching roots when he took over the reins at tradition-rich Niles McKinley H.S.

In his final season at the helm (2006), he led the Red Dragons to a 9-1 overall mark and the state playoffs.

In 2007 he accepted yet another reclamation project, this time summoned to rebuild the once-proud Austintown Fitch H.S. football program where he led the Falcons to an 83-46 overall mark with six playoff appearances. Overall, he spent 35 years in the classroom and 48 years as a coach, posting a 246-146-3 (.624) overall ledger.

During his storied coaching career, he led four different Ohio teams to the playoffs, was the Ohio “Coach of the Year” in 1990 and the Trumbull County “Coach of the Year” on 10 separate occasions.

He was also named Northeast Ohio “Coach of the Year” three times, earned Metro Conference “Coach of the Year” honors in 2006 and walked off with Federal League “Coach of the Year” laurels in 2010.

In 1990, his state championship season, he earned National Football Foundation “Coach of the Year”plaudits while in 2011, was honored with the prestigious Ohio High School Football Association’s S.E.I. (Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity) Award.