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Sports

Santavicca Reignites Passion for Coaching at Army

For Ron Santavicca, the wins on the field that come with being a football coach are the end result he’s always strived to achieve.

But the process of reaching that point has been the real reward.

The Yorktown Heights resident, who led Yorktown High School’s varsity football team to back-to-back state titles in 1993 and ’94, is applying that philosophy in a brand-new venue. And he’s never been happier.

Now 63 years old, Santavicca is an assistant coach of the sprint football team at Army.

“The atmosphere is electric,” Santavicca said. “Every day as I drive onto the (West Point) campus, I see the history of what made this country great.

“The players are at West Point to serve the United States and the attitude is duty, honor and country.

“There are no pro contracts to look forward to for the players, just the friendships and the love of the game. What these young men make in sacrifices so this country can remain free is unreal.”

Sprint football was formerly known as lightweight football. It requires that players weigh no more than 172 pounds.

It’s Santavicca’s first foray into college coaching since serving as the defensive backs coach at the University of Maine in 1976. That Maine coaching staff included former Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell, current Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Paul Boudreau, former Vanderbilt and LSU coach Gerry DiNardo and a familiar name to baseball fans: Stump Merrill.

“That’s right – the (former) manager of the Yankees,” Santavicca said. “I was surrounded by good people.”

But most of Santavicca’s coaching experience has been at the varsity level. He took over at Yorktown in 1987, after the Huskers were coming off a string of four straight losing seasons. Just one season later, he led Yorktown to the first of six bowl wins in a nine-year span that included the two state titles, in the first years state championship games were played.

It was a great run, but for Santavicca, being at West Point at this stage in his career has proven to be the perfect fit.

“West Point is a beautiful place,” he said. “The players have integrity, drive, focus and determination to accomplish what they started in the highest of standards.”

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