WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Iona Prep will have a familiar face strolling its football sideline in New Rochelle in the fall. Fans from Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains will also recognize the Gaels’ new coach.
Joe Spagnolo, a 10-year assistant to Mike O’Donnell at Stepinac, was named the new head coach Monday. Spagnolo quarterbacked Iona Prep before going to play at Siena College before finishing his playing career at Bryant College. Spagnolo replaces Vic Quirolo, who stepped down after last season. Quirolo had been the Prep coach since 2004.
At Stepinac, Spagnolo served as the offensive coordinator for the Crusaders, who went 24-1 over the past two seasons. Along the way, Spagnolo tutored some of the best players in the region, including Tyquell Fields, Brandon Coleman, Malcolm Major, Malik Crawford and Gavin Heslop.
"I had a great 10 years at Stepinac,'' Spagnolo said. "Being the head coach of my alma mater is a dream come true – and, literally, the only job I would have left Stepinac for."
Stepinac won its first outright Catholic High School Football League title in 2014. The Crusaders repeated the feat in 2015, and added another trophy to their case by capturing the Catholic High School Athletic Association state title with a 42-28 win over St. Francis. Spagnolo was a key part in the team's success.
"I was very lucky because Coach O'Donnell gave me a lot of responsibility as his associate head coach and offensive coordinator,'' Spagnolo said. "During my tenure, I learned a lot about installing a system, practice schedules, offseason programs, game management and most importantly, how to relate to and motivate high school students both on the field and in the community/classroom."
Spagnolo has a clear vision on how he'll direct the program at Prep. "My goal is to run a complete program from 7th-12th grade,'' Spagnolo said. "The key is to surround the kids with the best coaching staff I can assemble and to make sure the entire program is on the same page. As for philosophies, we will install my up-tempo no-huddle spread system, and we will be multiple on defense to make sure we are built to defend the various offenses that make up the CHSFL."
Quirolo began coaching at Iona Prep in 1988 as a varsity assistant. He became the jayvee coach in 1995 and took over as varsity coach in 2004. He will continue to coach the school’s basketball team.
“For over 25 years, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach football at different levels at Iona Prep, and I will always treasure this experience,” Quirolo said. “The support of the entire school community and my positive experiences with student-athletes and coaches will remain my fondest memories of coaching here.”
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