Less than a year ago, the athletic prospectus at Bishop Ireton High School was far brighter than it ever had been. The school was accepted into the Washington area's most prestigious private league, the Metro Conference, and Athletic Director Larry Rentch had assembled a young, talented coaching staff that was bringing Ireton back from years of doldrums.
Ireton's program, however, quickly has turned into turmoil as six of the nine major coaches, including Rentch, who also coaches the golf team, have either been dismissed or resigned in bitterness.
Rentch said each circumstance varied, and that money was not the major factor in any of them. But, he added, every coach is departing with hard feelings, especially since they have put so much effort into bringing Ireton's teams up to Metro Conference caliber.
"I was brought here for a purpose two years ago, and we've come a long way," said Rentch, who will turn his attention to private business. "When the administration agreed to go to the Metro Conference, I thought it showed their attitude toward athletics had changed, but in my opinion, they are moving the program backwards. It has gotten very frustrating."
Other coaches who will apparently not return to Ireton next year are wrestling coach Kevin Colabucci, who produced three all-Mets this year; basketball coach Bill Gibson, whose 24-10 team this year was the most successful in school history; tennis coach Bob Kluba, whose 18-3 team earned the school's first tennis championship ever; lacrosse coach Ed Wilson and swimming coach Tom Kaiser.
Gibson, a teacher at West Springfield, said he was given a one-year suspension which "virtually means I'll never be allowed to coach there again" because he did not force his players to attend a Sunday morning mass while away at a weekend tournament in Hagerstown, Md., in March.
Wilson, who does teach at Ireton, has appealed his firing as coach, but Gibson said he has no avenue of appeal since he is not a teacher at the school.
"It bugs me because I put in two years for peanuts (he earned $1,500 per year as coach) and built this team (it was 10-15 before he took over), and now they want someone to pick up where I left off and pay them twice the money."
Gibson said the new coach will be paid an estimated $3,000.
Father William Walsh, Ireton's principal, through a school spokesperson, refused to comment on any of the issues.
Fred Benevento, who complied a 23-10-1 mark in three years as O'Connell's football coach, will be leaving the school to accept a teaching position in the Fairfax County school system.
Taking over at O'Connell will be Jim Hayes, who has been an O'Connell assistant for 10 years and Benevento's defensive coordinator this year.
The W.T. Woodson boys, with four selections, and the Robinson and Lee girls, with three choices each, head The Washington Post All-Northern Virginia 1985 all-Met soccer team selected by area coaches.
Defenders Eric Jones and Pete Rabinowitch, striker Hal Zabrowski and goalie Rich Spencer represent Woodson.
Robinson midfielder Janet Repke and defenders Sue Montagne and Kathy Cotton were girls choices along withforward Kelly Chervenak, midfielder Cathy Cassidy, and defender Becky Bonzano from Lee.