Coaches for the ages: LI's top football minds

Suffolk County high school football coaching legends, from Suffolk County high school football coaching legends, from left: Tom Cassese (Comsewogue), Joe Cipp Jr. (Bellport), Fred Fusaro (Sachem) and Sal Ciampi (East Islip). Photo Credit: Newsday / David L. Pokress (2000)

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We've told you all about the best Long Island football players of the past six decades during this past football season. (Just look over there on the right side where it says "related stories.")

Now it's time to take a look at those who helped make those players great: the coaches.

For each decade, we selected who we believe to be the top coach in each county, along with other notable coaches for that 10-year span. Coaches who span multiple decades were considered in the decades where they experienced the most success.

THE 2000s

Suffolk: Rich Reichert, St. Anthony's, 23 years


1987-present, 190-48-3, .795

He has made the Friars the envy of the CHSFL. The Friars have been to the CHSFL title game 17 of his 23 years. They have won 11 of those title games, including seven in a row from 2001-2007. St. Anthony's had a 64-game CHSFL regular season winning streak from 1998-2007. The Friars also had overall winning streaks of 18 and 21 games.

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Nassau: Russ Cellan, Freeport and St. Dominic, 27 years
1983-present, 167-80-3, .674

Cellan took over a program that had won only seven games in the five years preceding him. Under his tutelage, Freeport has won five conference titles, three Long Island Class I titles, and three Rutgers Cups. His teams have qualified for the playoffs 16 times and reached the conference championship nine times.

Other Notables

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Paul Longo, Floyd, 15 years
1995-present, 114-32, .781

The Colonials won three straight Long Island Class I titles and three straight Rutgers Trophies from 2005-2007. Since 2001, Longo has led the Colonialsto six Suffolk Division I playoff titles with a record of 87-9. Floyd has had seven perfect regular seasons since 2001. Floyd won a Long Island record 42 straight games from 2005-2008.

Rick Punzone,

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Babylon , 7 years
2003-2009, 60-13, .822

He took over an outstanding program and the Panthers didn't miss a beat. His teams have been in six county finals, winning three. The Panthers have been to three Long Island championships, winning two, under Punzone.

Joe Vito, Roosevelt, 16 years
1992-1993, 1996-present, 112-41-2, .723

His teams have won six conference playoff titles, three Long Island Championships, and two Rutgers Cups. they've also qualified for the playoffs 12 times.

THE 1990s

Suffolk: Joe Cipp Jr., Bellport , 31 years
1976-1992, 1996-present, 202-84-3, .704

Cipp started the football program at Bellport in 1976 and made it a perennial powerhouse. He has guided the Clippers to 16 league, nine county, and four Long Island titles. They've also earned one Rutgers Trophy. Cipp has coached four undefeated teams and had winning streaks of 18 and 21 games. Cipp has instilled a family atmosphere in his program over the years.

Nassau: Tom Flatley, Garden City, 25 years
1985-present, 214-36-7, .846

How about the highest winning percentage of any coach in the history of Long Island football? Or the 24 "Big Four" and 15 county titles in his first 25 years? Or the four Long Island titles and 11 appearances in the LIC? Tom Flatley's teams have played with a consistency matched by very few over the years. His teams have qualified for the playoffs 24 times and have won four Rutgers Cups. The Trojans had a 30-game winning streak from 1990-1992.

Other notables

Lou Andre, Lawrence and Massapequa, 21 years
1984-1994, 2000-2009, 143-57-2, .713

Andre is the only coach to win Long Island titles at different schools. His teams have been to the playoffs 16 times, won six conference playoff titles, three Long Island titles, and three Rutgers Cups.

Terry Manning, North Babylon, 19 years
1991-present, 130-53-4, .706

The Bulldogs have been to eight Long Island title games, winning a record six. They have qualified for the playoffs 13 times. Manning's teams have had two undefeated seasons and won one Rutgers Trophy (2002).

Hans Wiederkehr, Babylon, 15 years
1988-2002. 99-41-2, .706

He took a consistent program and made it great! Wiederkehr's teams reached the playoffs 12 times and won nine league titles. The Panthers played in nine Suffolk finals, winning five. Babylon reached the LIC five times and won two titles under Wiederkehr.

THE 1980s

Suffolk: Wayne Shierant, West Islip, 15 years
1981-1995, 112-26-3, .805

Shierant is one of only two coaches in Suffolk history with a winning percentage over .800. His teams played in 10 conference/division playoff championship games, winning three of them. Shierant's teams won 10 league titles, two Rutgers Trophies, and one LIC. His teams qualified for the playoffs in all but one of his 15 seasons.

Nassau: Buddy Krumenacker, Farmingdale , Hempstead , 28 years
1978-1988, 1993-present, 188-68-11, .725

Krumenacker is the only coach to win at least 75 games at two schools. He was 77-19-5 at Hempstead from 1978-1988, and is currently 111-49-6 at Farmingdale. He has won 20 league titles, 10 county titles, and five Rutgers Cups. Krumenacker's teams have played in five LI finals, winning the title in 2001. Three of his teams were undefeated including the 1986 and 1988 Hempstead teams that were ranked in the top 20 in the Nation. The Tigers had a 34-game unbeaten streak from 1984-1987, and went 46-1-2 in Krumenacker's last 49 games at Hempstead.

Other notables

Tom Cassese, Comsewogue, 34 years
1973-2006, 209-90-3; .697

Cassese is Suffolk's all-time wins leader with 209. His teams won 16 league and three county titles. Cassese had one undefeated team (1990) which also won the Rutgers Trophy. His 1996 team won the LI Class III title. Cassese played two years in the AFL with the Denver Broncos. Cassese made the Wing-T offense popular with its different sets and misdirection play.

Fred Fusaro, Sachem, 32 years
1971-2002, 192-94-8, .667

He guided the Flaming Arrows to 14 conference/division title games, winning six of them. Fusaro's teams qualified for the playoffs 24 times, including a record 21 straight years. They won two Rutgers Trophies and had one undefeated season (1983). His teams won 19 league or "Big Four" titles.

Fred Smith, Friends Academy, Cold Spring Harbor, Locust Valley , 38 years
1961-1998, 202-104-15; .653

Smith was successful at all three schools, but mostly at Locust Valley where he spent his last 30 years. His teams reached four Nassau finals, winning three in a row from 1985-1987. Smith is one of four Long Island coaches to reach 200 victories in his career. He had three undefeated seasons. From 1969-1998 he had a record of 166-83-11 at Locust Valley.

THE 1970s

Suffolk:  Sal Ciampi, East Islip, 25 years
1970-84,1987-93,1998-00; 165-47-7; .769

His teams were always in great shape, well-disciplined, and the first in Suffolk to use a year-round weight program. Ciampi won 12 league titles, four Rutgers Trophies and had three undefeated teams. His teams had winning streaks of 19 and 21 games. He won the Thorp Award in 1961 as a player at Lawrence. Ciampi was an All-Big Ten Selection and an Academic All-American at Purdue. He is also Suffolk's all-time coaching wins leader in baseball with 601 wins in 31 years.

Nassau: Angelo Giugliano, New Hyde Park, 15 years
1969-1983, 97-25-1; .793

Giugliano's winning percentage (.793) is tied for second in Nassau history. He never had a losing season, and never lost more than three games in a season. Giugliano won seven league and three county titles, and two Rutgers Cups. He had two undefeated teams. His 1977 team allowed only seven points scored against it.

Other notables

Tony Cerullo, Glenn, 12 years
1974-1985, 81-23-3, .771

His teams won five conference playoff titles in only 12 years. Glenn won the Rutgers Trophy in 1979. Cerullo had four undefeated teams.

Jack Salerno, Elmont, 14 years
1968-1981, 87-27-3, 756

His teams played in five conference title games, winning two of them. The Spartans won five league titles, including the 1979 team which went an entire season without allowing a point. They were the last Long Island team to perform the feat.

THE 1960s

Suffolk: Dave Goldstein, Central Islip, 16 years
1959-1974, 91-31-7, .733

Goldstein was an assistant under Lou Howard at Amityville before he took over the head coaching job at C.I. His teams had an unbeaten streak of 37-0-2 from 1961-1966. Goldstein coached six undefeated teams, six league champions, and had two Rutgers Trophies.

Nassau: Don Snyder, Farmingdale, 40 years
1953-1992, 237-93-9; .712

Snyder turned the Dalers into a force that won 23 league titles, eight county titles, and six Rutgers Cups. Snyder has the longest consecutive coaching tenure in Long Island at 40 years. His 1978 team went unscored upon, and the 1992 team reached the Long Island Class I title game. Snyder's 1971 and 1972 teams were nationally ranked. Snyder had seven undefeated teams. Farmingdale had a 25-game winning streak from 1970-1973.

Other notables

Joe Erickson, Bay Shore, 20 years
1958-1977, 98-50-16, .646

His teams won six league titles, including four in a row. He had two undefeated seasons. His 1969 team won the Rutgers Trophy.

Lou Luba, Massapequa, 13 years
1963-1975, 75-26-4, .734

Luba's teams won five league titles and two Rutgers Cups. Three of his teams were undefeated.

Jack Martilotta, Lawrence, 14 years
1955-1968, 81-29-1, .734

He was the ultimate motivator. Martilotta's teams won five league championships and two Rutgers Cups. He coached two undefeated teams and had four teams with one loss.

Joe Thomas, Chaminade, 22 years
1948-1969, 120-46-7, .714

Thomas helped create the CHSFL. His teams won six league championships. He coached had two undefeated teams.

THE 1950s

Suffolk: Lou Howard, Amityville, 14 years
1953-1966, 82-15-3; .835

"Uncle Lou", as he was affectionately known, was the master motivator. Howard has the highest winning percentage of any football coach in Suffolk history. His teams won nine consecutive league titles and 10 overall. Howard's teams won six Rutgers Trophies, including a record four straight from 1954-1957. The Tide had a 20 game winning streak and five undefeated seasons under Howard.

Nassau: Howie Vogts, Bethpage , 56 years
1953-1965, 1967-present, 364-124-10, 741

Vogts started the program at Bethpage with a freshman team in 1952. He has been there ever since, except for 1966 when he took a sabbatical. Vogts is the all-time wins leader in New York State and his 56 years as the head coach is also a record. Vogts has won 35 league/division, 16 county, and five Long Island titles. He has had 10 undefeated seasons and his teams have earned three Rutgers Cups. Bethpage's 32-game winning streak from 1993-1995 is the longest in Long Island history.

Other Notables

Bill Ashley, Freeport, 21 years
1940-1942, 1946-1963, 123-38-6, .754

Ashley's team won eight league titles and five Rutgers Cups. He had five undefeated teams and six teams with one loss. Freeport had a 31-game unbeaten streak from 1956-1960.

Herb Goldsmith, Southampton, 24 years
1955-1978, 130-50-8, .713

Goldsmith's teams won 13 league titles and were undefeated four times.

Dorie Jackson, Greenport, 28 years
1951-1978, 150-51-7, .738

Jackson's teams won 12 league championships. He coached six undefeated teams and his team won the 1958 Rutgers Trophy.

THE 1940s

Suffolk:  Clifton LaPlatney, Bay Shore, 28 years
1927-1954, 130-65-16, .654

LaPlatney started the program in 1927. His 1946 team won the first ever high school football playoff game on Long Island. LaPlatney coached four undefeated teams and seven league championship teams. The 1944 team is the only Suffolk team to win the Rutgers Cup. From 1943-1951 theMarauders lost only six games. Twice his team allowed only six points in a season.

Nassau: Joe Fay, Hempstead, 28 years
1920-1947, 119-71-30, .623

His teams were undefeated seven times and won nine league titles. The Tigers won four Rutgers Cups under Fay. He was the first great coach in Hempstead football history.

Other Notables

Henry Read, Seton Hall (Patchogue), 34 years
1940-1973, 176-83-16, .672

Read was the only coach in the 34-history of the program. His teams won seven league titles and were undefeated four times.

Hank Guyer/Don Sterner, South Side, 25 years
1937-1959, 1963-1964

These two coaches led the Cyclones to Nassau's longest unbeaten streak of 37-0-7 from 1944-1950 where they enjoyed five undefeated seasons.

THE 1930s

Suffolk: Dick Smith, Southampton, 27 years
1923-1949, 126-54-13

Smith established the first dominate program in Suffolk. His teams won 14 league titles and the 1947 Suffolk playoffs. Smith had five undefeated teams. His 1947 team won the first Suffolk Rutgers Trophy.

Nassau: George Craig, Baldwin, 30 years
1929-1958, 131-75-22, .623

From 1931-1937 his teams lost just five games.Craig coached three undefeated teams and six league champions. Two of his squads won the Rutgers Cup.

Other Notables

W. Homer Ball, Amityville, 22 years
1929-1950, 96-55-9, .628

His teams dominated in Suffolk in its infancy. Ball's teams won seven league titles. He had five undefeated seasons and a winning streak of 19 straight games from 1934-1937.

Nick Farina, Lawrence, nine years
1936-1944, 49-8-13, .796

Farina has the second highest winning percentage in Nassau history. His teams won five league titles and two Rutgers Cups. His teams never lost more than two games in a season.

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