Paul Bricoccoli Sr. is part of a coaching legacy at Glens Falls High School, one of only three head football coaches in the last 65 seasons. Now, he is poised to join another select brotherhood — the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame.
Bricoccoli, who coached the Indians from 1973-99, is one of six local men who will be inducted among 20 former players, coaches and officials at the eighth annual Hall of Fame banquet next Saturday in Colonie.
Former local players joining Bricoccoli are former Glens Falls standout Justin Tougas, Roger Ahrens of Hudson Falls, Adam Burr of Cambridge and Mickey Walczak of Saratoga Springs. The late Chuck Bemis of the Adirondack chapter, will be inducted as an official.
“There are a bunch of pretty good guys who got in ahead of me,” said Bricoccoli, who coached six Foothills Council and three Section II championship teams, and finished with a career record of 149-94-2. “When your peers decide that you belong with them, it’s very humbling. It’s an honor — I’m proud of myself, my staff, and the kids and our school community. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Bricoccoli, along with Bernard “Putt” LaMay and current coach Pat Lilac, are the only coaches Glens Falls football has had since 1953.
“That’s probably because of the community and the kids and parents we have in Glens Falls,” Bricoccoli said. “It’s a perfect place to play and coach. You have to have a great staff, great kids and great support from your family.”
Bricoccoli was a standout quarterback at Linton High School in Schenectady and at the University of Rhode Island, before beginning his teaching and coaching career at Glens Falls.
Aside from his many championship teams, Bricoccoli’s favorite memories are of his 1997 team, which won only three games — “I don’t think I had more fun that year, those kids just loved the game,” he recalled — and his 1986 team.
“That was my son’s (Paul Jr.) team and one of the first ones after Al Roberts started a weightlifting program,” Bricoccoli said. “They went 0-7 as freshmen and I think their closest game was 34 points. But they were determined to be a good team and by the time they were seniors, we went to sectionals and lost in the last seconds to Watervliet.”
From 2001-03, Glens Falls’ offensive and defensive lines were anchored by a 6-foot-8 tower of power in Justin Tougas. The Indians reached the Section II finals in each of his varsity seasons as a defensive end and offensive tackle.
“I’m pretty excited about it — I got a call from Coach Bricoccoli after he found out that we were both getting in,” Tougas said.
“I was pretty shocked by it all,” he added. “It’s funny in retrospect — at the time, I didn’t think as much of myself. I was always my greatest critic.”
Tougas, who also won a state wrestling championship in 2004 after losing in the finals the year before, went on to play football at Boston College and then the University at Albany. He was a second team All-Northeast Conference selection offensive lineman at UAlbany. He is now an electrician and lives in Kingsbury with his wife and daughter.
“Pat Lilac was a great mentor, and my line coach Tim Graham, and coach (Dave) Casey, the greatest coach I ever had,” Tougas said. “It’s an honor for me, but partly it’s theirs, too.”
Ahrens, a 1987 Hudson Falls graduate, was an all-around standout for the Tigers at multiple positions. He was a first-team All-Foothills selection at four positions — running back, safety, kicker and punter — as a senior. He went on to play football and baseball at Bucknell University.
Burr was a four-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines at Cambridge from 1998-2001, helping the Indians to a 40-5 record in that span. Cambridge won the state Class D title in 1999 and lost in the Class C state final in 2001, and Burr was named Defensive Lineman of the Game both times.
Walczak is regarded by many as one of the best athletes ever to come from Saratoga Springs. He was a star tailback for the Blue Streaks in 1976 and ‘77, topping 1,000 yards each season and leading Saratoga to the Foothills title as a senior. He went on to play at West Virginia, where he was the MVP of the 1981 Peach Bowl.
Bemis, who died in 2015, was a football standout at Fort Edward in the 1950s. He served as an official in the Adirondack Chapter of Certified Football Officials for 36 years, and was recognized for his exceptional service with many awards.
Also being inducted next Saturday are former players Dion Lewis of Albany Academy and the New England Patriots, Brad Acker (Shenendehowa), Brian Bonanno (Amsterdam), Bob Czub (Nott Terrace), Jason Diehl (Troy), Scott Sicko (La Salle), Andrew Smith (Guilderland), Sal Sollecito (Amsterdam), Dave Stewart (Shenendehowa) and Kenny Youngs (Lansingburgh). Assistant coaches George Angley (Shenendehowa) and Bruce Stott (Ravena) are also being inducted, along with former Scotia coach Tony DiCocco for service to football, and Bob Treacy for service to youth football in Watervliet and North Colonie.