CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. ? Croton High School football coach John Catano doesn't spend much time boasting about past successes, so the opening of another season means welcomed challenges and a lot of looking ahead.
"We like the fact that we are building a good tradition of good football and winning," Catano said as he moved his Tigers from station to station Monday at the team's Croton Point practice facility. "We're three practices in, and I tell the kids that when we make mistakes, we forget them quickly and move ahead."
Catano's Croton teams have won two Section 1 championships and a state regional title in the last three years. Last year, they made it all the way to the Section 1 Class B state championship before losing at the Syracuse University Carrier Dome. He has 30 varsity players in camp who know something about winning.
"These early practices are about getting on the same page and getting in shape," Tigers tri-captain Nick Grous said. "We have to put all the pieces together to get ready for the season."
Brian Soares, who joins Grous and Matt Gennarelli as the captains, said the returning champs know what it takes to win.
"We've been successful, so we know you can't just expect to win, but you have to work even harder," Soares said. "Living up to a good tradition is a good thing."
Catano showed his head coaching form throughout the early morning practice and pointed to his coaching staff, which has added former Army quarterback coach Anthony Fiorilli, who also coached at Roosevelt and Lincoln high schools in Yonkers over a 15-year career.
"Anytime you turn over good players like we had you depend on the coaching staff to help build confidence in the next group," Catano said. "We have an excellent group of coaches, and that makes things go smoothly."
Croton, 39-6 over the last five years, opens its title defense at home against Pleasantville on Sept. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
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