Al Merola grew up in Syracuse where he was an all-league player at tailback in the single wing formation at North High School. Following high school, Merola went into the U.S. Air Force. He trained as a medical corpsman at Great Lakes Naval Base. While he was in the Air Force, he played football for the base teams both at Charlestown and Elmendorf Air Base in Anchorage, Alaska.
During his military duty, Merola began his college education. He studied at the Citadel and the University of Alaska. After his discharge, he entered Syracuse University as a full-time student and graduated in 1964. He completed his graduate work there for his permanent certification in physical education.
In September 1964, Merola started his teaching career at Pleasant Street Elementary School in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District. Ironically, the first year he was there he coached ninth-grade soccer. Then he became an assistant football coach for Al Vedder at F-M until his head coaching position started at Solvay High School in the fall of 1970. Merola taught at Solvay High School until he retired from teaching in June of 2001.
From 1970 to 2003, Merola compiled 210 wins, 75 losses and 9 ties at Solvay, a Class C school that played against Class A and B level competition. Merola’s 210 wins is among the most career wins in Section III. Under Merola, the Bearcats won two sectional titles and 17 league titles. They won or shared the Class B West title for six straight years. During the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Bearcats enjoyed a 23-game winning streak.
Merola won numerous coach of the year awards and built a strong tradition at Solvay. Many of his athletes went on to play college ball after their playing days at “The Pit”.
“Longevity, dedication and knowledge in your coaching staff are always an asset to developing a winning program.” --- Al Merola
1970: Began coaching football at Solvay High School
2000: Won New York State Coaches Association award
2001: Retired from teaching at Solvay
2002: Named “All CNY Coach of the Year.”
Named league “Coach of the Year” at least eight times
League championships in 1971, 72, 78, 79, 81, 82, 87, 88, 89, 91, 94, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02, and 03
Sectional championships in 1979 and 2002