By Sophia Ricco
St. Anthony’s varsity football team has had a sensational season so far. Coming off a win in their homecoming game last week they are gearing up for their championship game and the final home game of their esteemed head coach.
The team found themselves victorious at their homecoming game against Cardinal Hayes High School, coming out on top, 56-36. The win put them at 5-0 in their league. The Friars will face the other 5-0 team in their league, Iona Prep, for the Triple A Division Championship, this Friday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s football fields.
The game marks the retirement of Richard Reichert, the team’s head coach for the past 32 years.
“The kids realize it’s for first place,” Reichert said. “It’s really one of our goals to win the regular season championship and move on to the playoffs.”
Although, the game does not affect the playoffs, it is still crucial for the team to keep their winning momentum going. Reichert hopes that the team will make in playoffs and believes they have a chance at making it to States this year. Last year, the team made it into the finals before the State game but lost. This season the team may be strong enough to go all the way.
“The coaches have stayed together for a long time and we have great players so it’s been a really good ride,” Reichert said. “It’s my alma mater, and I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience.”
In his time coaching, Reichert feels that the players have consistently given both effort and hard work to their team. But he has had to alter his coaching style.“The game has changed,” Reichert said. “The game is wide open now, it used to be much more of a defensive game and now it’s more of an offensive game with lots of points being scored.”
With this shift, the QB is crucial to to the team. Reichert believes this year he has “the best one around.” Quarterback Greg Campisi has been playing “tremendous” in his third year as a starter, and the coaches give him plenty of freedom. Running back Kyle Angus has been a strong player that has come into his own on the team, scoring five touchdowns in last week’s game and two the week before. The squad’s top receivers are Greg Randall, Danny Parker and Jaden Jernigan.
“We’re just really balanced, we have a great core of receivers and the quarterback is able to spread it around,” Reichert said.
But Reichert is humble in his abilities as a coach, with an overall record of 264-65-3, he ties for the second most all time wins on Long Island. When asked about this stat, Reichert joked that it makes him feel old. But someone doesn’t have this many wins from time alone.
“We have great coaches and great players, so it was really just the matter of that combination that resulted in a lot of wins,” Reichert said.
A graduate of the St. Anthony's class of 1970, Reichert knew he wanted to come back and coach at his alma mater. After retiring from the Nassau County Police Department with 25 years of service as a police officer, Reichert took up coaching and teaching at St. Anthony's. He has coached for 39 years in the football program, starting as head coach for the freshmen team, then the junior varsity coach and would became varsity head coach in 1987.
Why hang up the cleats now?
“It’s just the right time,” Reichert said. “I have a grandson that I want to see play and my son coaches college football. It was just time.”
Reichert will continue to teach physical education at St. Anthony’s High School and coach junior varsity golf. He will still attend St. Anthony’s football games, he added.
Taking over as head coach is Joseph Minucci, the school’s athletic director and former player for Reichert. For his final home game, three decades of players Reichert has coached will be coming back to the school to pay tribute to their coach. He tries to keep in touch with his past players and has added some to his coaching staff.
“The guys reach out to me and I always love just talking football and mentoring them about what’s really important with coaching,” Reichert said. “It’s not the Xs and Os, wins and loses but it’s about creating the relationships with players.”