NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – New Rochelle’s high school football team had to overcome adversity again Saturday – but still pulled off a state semifinal win.
For the second week in a row, the team played without their head coach because of a controversial reassignment by school officials.
It was a victorious night again for the New Rochelle Huguenots, who have won countless playoff games under head coach Lou DiRienzo.
For the team, and senior halfback Jessie Parson, Saturday’s semifinal win was so emotional because of their coach’s absence.
“Coach D will always be with us spiritually no matter where we’re at, always in life, he has instilled so much,” Parson said.
There was plenty of support for DiRienzo in the stands Saturday night. Families say he was the man who built this program and has been at its helm for years. Suddenly last week, the district superintendent decided to reassign him without explanation.
“It’s been a week and a half now we still don’t have any updates. She said it would be a quick investigation and it’s the second game without him so it’s really stressful,” senior Mia Tammaro said.
Sources tell CBS2 the coach allegedly interfered in a disciplinary matter involving a New Rochelle High School student who was a distant relative. The district is scheduled to meet with him on Monday. Supporters have been criticizing how the investigation has been handled.
“I think that it’s a vendetta. I think that they are trying to hide their own discrepancies, everything they’ve done that’s wrong,” former athletic trainer Sherry Llauger said.
Families say the state semifinal win was the greatest way to show their coach their support and to show the superintendent they aren’t backing down.
“We are still so strong and resilient. I think that’s enough to convince her that whatever happens she should just bring him back,” Tammaro added.
Families are hoping the coach will be reinstated before the state finals on Sunday, Dec. 1.
New Rochelle will play that championship game at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome.