STORY BY MARC MATURO
PHOTOS BY TOM MCGUIRE
They were linked as coaches for decades, developing powerhouse football teams, and now Joe Casarella and Ralph Cordisco will forever be linked following the dedication of Joe Casarella Field during halftime of Saturday’s game against Ossining.
The ceremony was held at Ralph Cordisco Stadium. Now, a sign above the scoreboard reads, “Casarella Field at Cordisco Stadium.”
(Incidentally, North Rockland rolled over Ossining, 49-6, in true Red Raiders’ fashion.)
An enthusiastic throng of close to 3,000 fans, family and friends flooded the area, including more than 300 former players and Cordisco himself, taking center stage.
“There were so many, so many,” said Casarella, obviously humbled by those former players who took and time and made the effort to join the dedication.
Among them were Jeff Becker, the former tailback and 1993 Cowboy Derek Lassic, Mike Stone, former Tulane and Jets player Dennis O’Sullivan and Floyd Walker, “From one of the old teams.”
Casarella was absolutely thrilled by the turnout at the game.
“You know, I could not believe the number of former players who came back, some flying in, and the number of notes I got from players who could not make it.”
Casarella, the school’s athletic director and former football coach, whose 255 wins rank No. 1 all-time in Rockland County, told the Rockland County Times that Cordisco always had something solid to offer.
“He interviewed me at Ithaca and hired me, and was always my role model,” Casarella said. “He taught me so much about coaching and dealing with people. He was marvelous, taught me so many things; he was always good.”
Casarella also said Cordisco preached patience before making a decision.
“He said to take your time, do things rationally before you make a decision,” Casarella noted. “But the best thing about him was his hiring. Look at some of the people who he hired – Don Daniels, Mike Carroll, Bobby Nadal, all great coaches. They’re all deceased but a bench was dedicated to them, too.”
(Ed note: Cordisco, still going strong, has a 96th birthday bash set for November 14 at Kennelly’s Grill House on Route 9W in Congers, beginning at noon.)