WHITE PLAINS Even before the chin straps were snapped, John Castellano was shouting instructions and providing encouragement.
The familiar voice is barely hanging on.
Castellano was only hired to coach football at Westlake in March and he already has the Wildcats in step. They had more than a few moments worth celebrating Saturday during a six team scrimmage at White Plains.
It was all positive until two fumbles interrupted the progress.
“Hang on to the damn ball,” screamed Castellano, who spent 23 seasons at Nyack where his teams won state titles in 2000 and 2003.
Corrections were made in a hurry.
“The voice started to go away as triples progressed,” said Anthony Sardo, who’s playing fullback in the newly installed Wing-T offense. “He’s got a great personality. He’s mad when he needs to be mad, but otherwise he’s joking with us. We love him.”
After he left Nyack, Castellano spent two years in New Jersey on the staff at Don Bosco then took over at Poughkeepsie, going 4-13 over the last two seasons.
“Coach (Rich) Hennessey left the cupboard full so it was just a matter of me getting my philosophy in,” he said. “What I like about this team is we’re not big in numbers, but we’re big in quality. We go two deep in a lot of spots.”
The philosophy hasn’t changed a lot, but he is open to new wrinkles.
“We’re a Wing-T team, but we’ll spread you out a little,” Castellano said. “I think because of our athleticism we can be very diverse. We can be a problem for people because we can attack you in a few different ways. I’ve had to come out of that vanilla Wing-T concept and get into some different looks and we’ve done that.”
Opposing teams may need a little extra time in order to prepare.
“Teams don’t have to defend the Wing-T anymore,” Castellano said. “It’s hard to get ready for us in two or three days.”
Westlake finished with a 5-4 record last season and opens against Briarcliff.
“Our team has taken everything really well and we believe in what he’s putting in,” Sardo added. “We’re just going to take it and run with it.”
Rye had a productive day, picking right up from where graduated quarterback Andrew Livingston and wide out Tim DeGraw left off. There are more than a couple of holes to fill, but the Garnets saw a number of newcomers make veteran plays against White Plains, Mahopac and Eastchester.
“It was a difficult transition at the beginning of camp, but with a lot of repetition the young kids are really starting to impress me,” said Garnets running back and defensive lineman Chase Pratt. “T.J. LaVelle, he’s made a smooth transition into the starting quarterback role. You expect a setback after losing somebody like Andrew, but T.J. started to gel with the offense at 7-on-7 camp back in July and he’s kept the momentum going.”
Yorktown was busy mixing and matching, attempting to solidify the lineup after graduating 27 players.
Jose Boyer and Kyle Casey are battling for the starting quarterback job. The primary back remains Nick Santavicca with Scott Weaver, Matt Variano and Brett Makar all battling for carries. Tyler Makar and Max Costello are the split ends.
“These kids have all been around each other enough,” Huskers coach Mike Rescigno said. “That is the benefit of being part of a program. They have all been a part of this system and we should be the better for it.”
White Plains seems to have an improved offensive and defensive front, but it was difficult to identify the playmakers with so many rotating in and out.
Eastchester showed off a new spread offense.
“We’ve been working hard on it since January,” Eagles coach Fred DiCarlo said. “We took an extra camp to work on it. The kids like running the spread offense and are pretty excited.”
John Arcidiacono is back at quarterback hit Andrew Schultz a number of times down the field. A number of teams are going to have difficulty matching up with the 6-foot-4 receiver who pulled in passes that were easily within reach of a defensive back.
“It’s so much fun after running triple-option,” Schultz said. “It was a little difficult at first, but John is now the maestro of this offense.”
A number of standouts like Santavicca, Pratt and Mahopac quarterback Dan Foley did not dress for the scrimmages.
“I’m saving the body for the regular season,” Foley said. “I’m fine, just resting today.”