When Mike Cinquanti first approached me about doing a top ten list for his new book he made it clear I could pick whatever topic I wanted to address. I immediately ruled out the ten best players and ten best teams I ever coached. We were always about team play and not individual accomplishments. The whole was always equal to the sum of its parts. As for the ten best teams, I coached for seventeen years and loved them all, regardless of their record or achievements. So I decided on sharing three special memories I have about ten Amsterdam teams I coached and hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed sharing them: (Editor’s note: I’ve shared two of Coach Derrico’s memories below. The complete list of ten will appear in my new book; 50 Top Ten All-Time Amsterdam Lists, which will be released later this year. If you subscribe to my free monthly Amsterdam Top Ten Newsletter, you will receive a special offer that will permit you to order my new book at a special discounted price. You can subscribe to the free newsletter here.
IV. 1986 – Record 10-0; Big Ten League Champions; Faced Saratoga in Super Bowl
1) We went undefeated and beat a 9-0 Saratoga team, 35-0 in the Super Bowl. I knew Saratoga didn’t stand a chance when our band was playing the National Anthem before the game and our boys were crying on the sidelines. Nobody could have beaten us that day.
2) During the week leading up to that Super Bowl, my principal Bert DeRose called me into his office because our game was actually included on an illegal betting sheet along with professional and major college games scheduled for that same weekend. Bert wanted to know what to do about it. I looked at the sheet and saw we were a three point underdog and told him “Take the points!”
3) The eighth game of the season was in downstate New York against a great Monroe Woodbury team. We had to stay in a hotel the night before the game and the next morning, our players had to take the SAT’s. Despite everything, we managed to win the game, remain undefeated and at that time were ranked fourth in New York State.
V. 1991 – Record 11-0; Big Ten Champions; Super Bowl Champions; NY State Section Champions
1) We were on our way to play Roosevelt High School in the Sectional Championship at Marist College and our great running back, Justice Smith could only play offense because he was wearing a shoulder harness. He gave me one of the best and guttiest performances I’ve ever witnessed in a great win over that Roosevelt team to earn Amsterdam that New York State Section Championship.
2) On a critical fourth down situation during a time out late in that close game with Roosevelt, my assistant coach, Jim Garner sent down a play to me. He had noticed Roosevelt’s defense was keying every move Justice made and felt the belly play to our fullback Mike Angelloti would net us the important first down. We ran the play and Mike went 40 yards, untouched into the end zone to seal the victory.
3) We played a tough Catholic Central team in week 8 of that season on our home field. They were playing defensively, using an eight-man front to stop our running game. Our quarterback, Brian Bonanno threw two touchdown passes to counter their defense, one of which was on an audible he called at the line of scrimmage, to give us a close victory.