For the third time in as many years, the Saugerties High School football team has a new head coach.
This time, it’s a familiar face.
Dom Zarrella, who is also the school’s athletic director, has been around awhile; more than 20 years, in fact. He has coached the junior varsity football team for seven years and the modified team for most of the rest of the time.
Zarrella, 54, is also the head coach of the wrestling team, which won a division title this past winter season.
Lou Denise, last year’s coach, who is a teacher at Rondout Valley Central High School, was unable to coach again this year because Rondout would not allow him out early enough each afternoon to attend practice on time.
“I’ve been thinking about taking the job a number of times,” said Zarrella. “But this year, my daughter graduated college and my son graduated high school, so I have the time.”
He’s also doing it for “the kids.” Many of the players are on the wrestling team and Zarrella coached almost all of them on the modified football team.
What can the team and Saugerties football fans expect from Zarrella as a varsity coach?
“Well, for one thing, we will play well every game,” said Zarrella, stopping just shy of a Rex Ryan-level prediction of making the playoffs.
“But I can tell you one thing, we won’t be giving up 300 points and only scoring 50 like last year’s team did,” he added.
Players will also be in better shape and better disciplined, Zarrella said.
“A big part of football is repetition, and players that have been coming out for our seven-on-seven practices this spring and summer are learning that,” said Zarrella.
Zarrella describes his football philosophy as “run-first, pass-second.” It will be smash-mouth football.
With Robert Trincillito and Justin Carageane running the ball and Brian Bucci at quarterback, this team should be an interesting one to watch.
“The parents have already been great and are talking about holding tailgate parties before the game, and we’re going to have a marching band,” Zarrella said.
The band got off to a rousing start during this year’s Fourth of July Parade. Spectators lined the parade route, cheering them along their way.
The Sawyers’ opening game will be against of their rivals, the Ganders of Rondout Valley.
There will be no regular season game against cross-river rivals, the Raiders of Red Hook, which is good because for Zarrella, that would mean coaching against the team from the town where he lives and the team his son played ball for.
“But we will scrimmage them prior to our opening game,” Zarrella added.
The football coach with the old-school philosophy of controlling the clock with running plays, keeping the ball out of the other team’s hands, and building a team of disciplined young men who will be in great shape, asked parents and fans to give the team a chance and come out and see what they have to offer.