The most successful high school football coach in the annals of Rockland would appear to have many alter egos. Many people know him as the man who has led North Rockland High School’s football team to a 19-year record of 160-22-1; 11 league, 11 bowl and 10 Section 1 (Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess counties) titles; the largeschools championship in the first New York State football playoffs in 1993; and advancement to the title game again in 1994.
He also owns the highest winning percentage (.879) of New York State football coaches with more than 100 wins, and has been Coach of the Year in Rockland 13 times, in New York State twice, and, in 1997, nationally, as chosen by the National federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association.
His teams have ranked in the top five in the state 12 times, and the 1993 state title club was rated No.23 nationwide. His proteges have gone on to play for many Division I colleges and in 10 postseason bowl games, including the Orange, Cotton and Sugar bowls.
But those numbers speak only of Casarella the coach. There’s also Casarella the athletic director. Under his direction, Red Raider teams have won 119 league titles, 43 sectional crowns and countless top-10 state rankings in the past 10 years alone. Casarella the organizer/officer holds or has held many posts: president of the state football coaches association; a director of the Governor’s Bowl, an annual football game between New York and New Jersey high school all-stars; executive committee member of Section 1 hockey and committee member of Section 1 lacrosse, chairman of League B football and treasurer of Conference A schools.
Casarella the clinician has been guest speaker at numerous college football, coaches and athletic directors clinics and con- ventions, management seminars, Rotary and other civic group meetings. Casarella the coach also won sectional and league lacrosse titles and earned Coach of the Year honors three times in that sport. His expertise included coaching stints in tennis, track and field, and baseball at North Rockland.
As an athlete, Casarella was an All-Westchester County football player at Harrison High School and a member of the Ithaca College football team that was Lambert Cup (Eastern) champion in 1965. He also was Ithaca’s lacrosse team captain in 1967.
The man of many hats is especially proud of his 32-year involvement with the youth of North Rockland and Rockland County. He taught physical education for 17 years and now helps coordinate the program at North Rockland, besides being district chairman of the Substance Awareness Committee. He has lent his time and support to many youth sports groups, including the Catholic Youth Organization, Haverstraw and Stony Point Little Leagues, and the North Rockland youth football and soccer associations.
Casarella’s influence extends beyond the athletic sphere. He is on the executive committee for the county substance abuse organization; is a member of the county Aid Advising Board and Policy Committee; has served on a committee of the AntiDefamation League of B’nai B’rith of Rockland; and is on the scholarship committee of the Federation of Police. He’s also chairman and a charter member of the North Rockland Sports Hall of fame, and is a prominent member of the Haverstraw Elks and the Italian American Club of West Haverstraw.
The honors bestowed on him by an array of constituencies would require a separate volume itself. Here is a sampling: distinguished service awards from CYO, County Executive John T. Grant, the County Legislature (for Casarella and his football staff), and the county chapter of the anti-drug group O.A.O.O.Y.; certificates of merit from the International Conference of Police, the Gaelic football League and the Bronx Lions Club; Man of the Year citations from Big Brother-Big Sister, Boys Town of Italy and Rockland Hibernians; and honorary chairman of the Marian Shrine Golf Outing.
Casarella, who’s 54, lives in New City with his wife, Jean, an employee of the Archdiocese of New York. They have two children: Greg, a teacher and coach at Suffern High School, and Nancy, who is pursuing a degree in occupational therapy.