John Castellano returned to MacCalman Field Friday night for more than just a game between his Poughkeepsie team and his former Nyack team, filled with pride.
Not just the pride of what he accomplished on that football field, but also the pride of seeing the men on the other sideline, Mike Ramponi, and his coaching staff.
But Ramponi’s Indians (4-1) beat the 0-5 Pioneers 26-0, powered by Adonis Alcime’s 144 rushing yards and two TDs and Jordan Mews’ 141 passing yards and a TD. Quamel Broadhurst caught four passes, including a touchdown, and had two interceptions.
Castellano, the former Nyack head coach for 23 seasons — including 180 wins, seven sectional titles and two state championships — cut his teeth under Tony DeMatteo, and remembered what it was like for DeMatteo to coach against one of his many disciples.
“I always wondered how he was feeling,” Castellano said. “Tony always said it was a proud moment to be able to watch people that he had coached or were assistants for him go on to be head coaches. So certainly in that respect, it’s certainly a proud moment for me to see Mike and his staff coaching in Nyack.
“To me, it’s not about the game in terms of Nyack-Poughkeepsie. I just think it’s a great night for Nyack, for MacCalman field and the history of that place and certainly the teams I coached there and those who will come back for the game. It brings back a lot of memories for me. The whole Nyack family getting together again is exciting for me.”
Castellano never left Nyack. He still teaches there. But he gave up the coaching job after 2010 when his right-hand man, Jose St. Victor (who was there for all 23 seasons) retired, and Castellano’s son Mark graduated, then became an assistant at Don Bosco Prep. When he got the Poughkeepsie job in August, St. Victor, who also teaches at Nyack, returned to football.
On Ramponi’s staff are James Case, Castellano’s nephew Scott Reynolds, Rob Wisner and Dan Berkowitz, all of whom coached for Castellano. Assistant coach Billy Arnhold played for Castellano. Plenty of former players were at MacCalman for Friday’s game.
“He’s always willing to help out if there’s anything I need,” Ramponi said. “And we always talk about the old times. It’s a good relationship and still has that student-mentor feel to it. He taught me how to coach the game, so any time I can talk to him about football, it’s a good thing for me.
“A lot of people, when they dissect football coaches, they go right to the X’s and O’s. But if you’re going to be successful as a coach in football, and I learned this from Cas early on, then you have to put in the time. He was probably the best at preparing. That’s why he was so successful, and so consistent at winning. He was great at breaking down film, great at preparing his team during the week, and he taught me that if you don’t get it done on the practice field, it’s not going to happen in the game. I’ve tried to live by that as a head coach.”