Rob Perpall stared at the scoreboard one final time and reflected on the moment.
His Seaford football team had overcome a bigger, faster Miller Place team to capture the Long Island Class IV championship, 29-27, on Friday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“There weren’t many people who believed we could win,” said Perpall, who guided the Vikings to their third Long Island title, including two during his tenure. “I couldn’t catch a wink of sleep this week. And our players came out smoking hot and executed the game plan. I look up there and see what we achieved and I really believe high school kids are capable of anything.”
Perpall, 70, who has a 149-59-1 career coaching record, announced that this was the perfect ending, the right way to leave the sideline after 21 years as a head coach.
“It’s the right time,” said Perpall, who choked up a bit while announcing his retirement. “Coaching can be stressful at any age. But at 70 years old . . . it’s really just the right time. When you do this right, it’s a lot of work and takes away from your family life. I’m sure I’ll miss it, but I’m going to spend more quality time with the family.”
Perpall’s impact in the Seaford community and with his players was not lost on senior defensive end Andrew Chirico. “Besides my parents, coach Perpall is the most influential person in my life,” he said. “Whether you’re the best player or the worst player, he treats everyone with the same respect. He’s there for us on and off the field. If you’re having a rough day, Coach helps you get through it. He’s an excellent role model.”
Chirico said in dire moments, Perpall showed confidence in his players. And when Miller Place rallied Friday, Perpall stepped in and inspired his team.
“He always says the right thing,” Chirico said. “He brought us together as a team and made us believe nothing would stop us. If he doesn’t coach again, I’m glad I was a senior when he walked away with a championship.”
Perpall received handshakes and pats on the back as he worked his way across Hofstra one final time. The sun had started its descent in the late afternoon and Perpall’s smile was the tell-all as he walked into the sunset.
“Yes, this is perfect,” he said. “You can’t write a better ending. I’m very proud.”