NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New Rochelle’s championship football team was back in class Tuesday.
Their big win came in the midst of a lot of obstacles, including the reassignment of their longtime coach.READ MORE: Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo Charged With Misdemeanor Forcible Touching
Not only did the team beat McQuaid Jesuit from Rochester 28-0, they ended the season undefeated.
Senior Jessie Parson scored two touchdowns and ran for more than 170 yards.
“To finally win, especially after losing last year, it was an indescribable feeling, and it really feels like you’re on top of the world at the moment,” he told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
It wasn’t easy. For the Hugenots, much more than a championship was on the line.
“It was good to get this win and to prove everybody wrong,” senior cornerback Raymond Dixon said.
Questions loomed after the team’s longtime coach, Lou DiRienzo, was sidelined just days before the playoffs were set to begin.
DiRienzo was suspended for allegedly violating school policy after getting involved in a disciplinary matter that involved one of his relatives.
Raymond Rhett and Greg Foster were among the assistant coaches who had to fill the void.READ MORE: Student, 14, Arrested With Loaded Handgun At Brooklyn High School
“We had private meetings, private conversations asking kids how are we doing? Does anybody need any other support?” Rhett said.
All this happened in the midst of rallies for DiRienzo to return.
The coaches kept the team focused on football — and also didn’t shave just for good luck.
“We followed the game plan and was able to execute,” Foster said.
It worked, providing lifelong lessons both on and off the field.
“We’re more of a team than they thought. We really can be cohesive. We really can work together. We really can do what we want to. We can accomplish our goals,” Dixon said.
While DiRienzo was not there, his impact surrounds them, all while his future with the program he’s spent three decades building remains uncertain.
The school is planning a celebration for the team, and the players will get their championship rings in the spring.MORE NEWS: FDNY Unions Protest Vaccine Mandate For NYC Workers, First Responders: 'We Currently Have A Staffing Shortage As It Is'
As for DiRienzo, school leaders are still determining his fate.