STAMFORD, Conn. – Frank Marcucio believes he can revive the Westhill High School football program. If interest in the program is any indication, the first-year coach believes he is off to a good start at the Stamford school.
“We’ve got 100 kids out playing at all different levels,’’ Marcucio said. “We had 60 kids showing up every day at BlueStreak for workouts over the summer.”
Marcucio served as the defensive coordinator last year under Dick Cerone. Westhill went 0-10 last year, and has just three wins in the last three years. Marcucio, who was the head coach at Bassick and has coached at several high schools throughout the state, believes Westhill is a sleeping giant that can become a force in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
“The mix of demographics at the school are similar to a Hamden or a West Haven,’’ he said. “We have a lot of good athletes. I’ve got 21 or 22 seniors that are very athletic. Last year we had just eight returning seniors. We recruited the halls and got some terrific talent. The whole idea is to build a program, not just a football team.”
Marcucio has some important building blocks to start the overhaul. Quarterback R.J. Cooper returns after throwing for 534 yards and six touchdowns last year. Andrew Puccella, Chris Soule and Mike Vigliotti, Ryan Coppola, Nick Jimenez and Tim Longo are some of the other key players the Vikings will be counting on this season. “We have a lot of athletes,’’ Marcucio said. “We’re not big, but we’re very fast.”
Marcucio got a quick test in crisis-management already this season. Peter Cernansky, a quarterback on last year’s team, died in August from a head injury suffered in a skateboarding accident. Another player from last year’s team died in the spring.
“It hit the kids hard,’’ said Marcucio, who is also a paramedic. “It’s a life lesson. Unfortunately, I have experience with this and I’ve had to deal with this stuff before. It has helped me guide the kids along, but it has hit them hard.”
Westhill opens its season Saturday at Trinity Catholic. The Vikings’ complete schedule is online.