Deptford High School football is relying on some old faces to secure its future.
In December, Alphonse Orio was hired back as head coach of the Deptford Spartans football team after a nine-year absence away from the position.
Recently, the Deptford Board of Education approved the hiring of the men who would be coaching beside him.
Every one of the coaching hires knows coach Orio in one capacity or another, from either playing with him or playing for him. They all also attended, played for and graduated from Deptford High School. They are Matthew Baney, DaJuane Collins, Clarence “CJ” Rothmaller, Brandon Williams, the head coach’s son, Raymond Orio, Nick Cappolina and the head coach’s brother, Peter Orio. All of them are recognized as assistant varsity coaches and have one goal in mind, “bring back that Deptford pride.”
It is one of the reasons Orio came back to coaching after his long absence.
“When I decided to take the job, it was because I wanted to bring pride back to Deptford,” he said. “Deptford has always been a football community.”
Orio has one rule, “do it right.” He entrusts these men to lead and set the tone for current and future players.
“These young men will set the example,” said Orio. “It’s one thing to tell someone to do it or to ask someone to do it, but once you’ve done it, and they know you’ve been through it, it has a little more validity to it.”
To get things off on the right track, Orio has reimplemented the players wearing shirts and ties on Fridays and brought back the after-school study hall.
The infusion of alumni blood will hopefully turn the program around to its former glory.
“What better way to do it than to have former Deptford players coaching? That group is a special group. I think they are exceptional, and they all bring different traits to the program,” said Orio.
Collins, a 2005 graduate, has been on Orio’s short list for awhile but just couldn’t say “no” this time to his former coach.
“Coach has been calling me the last couple of years, and every time I’m like ‘I don’t know coach, I don’t know.’ This time I initially told him ‘no’ at first and then I thought about it and I knew this was the right time to come back home. I made the decision, and I’ve been happy ever since,” he said.
Collins played all four years under Orio and will try to share what he has learned.
Bringing a motivated spirit to the team is important, and Collins has plenty of that in supply. It starts in the weight room for Collins.
“When I go in there, I work on pushing them because a lot of them, a big guy like a lineman will go in there and lift 135 pounds because it’s easy and comfortable. I try to get them to get out of their comfort zone. When you’re in here, get something out of it, get stronger,” he said.
Williams is a 2007 graduate who played all four years for the Spartans as a defensive end and fullback. He will be coaching those positions come August.
The thought of not only working with former players but also people he played with has Williams feeling special.
“I think to be with the entire staff, especially to be back with our coach, it means a lot,” said Williams.
Williams is already locked in with the culture change and knows that he has to get the players on board as well.
“Winning will come,” he said. “I think we just have to establish what we need, what we want from the kids. What coach expects from us and then how we trickle it down to them. I just want the kids to compete, work hard and do the right thing in school.”
Rothmaller, another 2007 graduate, will be coaching the running backs and defensive backs for the varsity and junior varsity.
Rothmaller shared what has him excited about being able to coach Spartan football.
“Being able to coach with my boy, Brandon Williams, who is on the staff with us now,” he said. “He asked me if I was interested two years ago and I told him ‘yeah, if there’s a spot for me I would do it because I played here, walked these hallways and I just want to see the program get back to what it was.’”
Bringing the culture back won’t be easy. Rothmaller is excited for the season but knows that it could be a challenge.
“Hopefully getting the kids to buy into what we say,” he said. “Once they realize we are here to help. Once they see, ‘I got coach Al in my corner, I got coach Collins in my corner, coach Brandon and all the other coaches in my corner,’ and they see that we’re here for them, that is going to be the most exciting thing.”
Rothmaller believes this kind of impact will bring back the winning culture, bring in more players and bring back the die-hard fans.