MAHOPAC, N.Y. — In 2004, Tom Donahoe and Mark Langella both applied for the head varsity football coaching position at Mahopac High School.
Donahoe got the job and Langella stayed on the staff as his defensive coordinator.
Twelve years later, Langella will get his chance to run the show after being selected as the new varsity football head coach. He takes over for Donahoe who stepped down after last season.
Langella, who will turn 50 in June, is a Mahopac resident and teaches Advanced Placement and Regents chemistry at Mahopac High School.
“I’m an educator, so the football coach is an extension of my classroom,” Langella said. “In my classroom I try to create a positive, motivating environment and to encourage the kids to develop. In the classroom, it’s academically, but on the field it’s physical, mental, spiritual and also social. Here I hope to develop young men with integrity, moral courage, push positive attitudes about being ambassadors for their family, school and community on and off the field.”
On Tuesday, March 15, at the Mahopac School Board meeting, the board voted 8-0 in favor of Langella with one trustee, Daniel Hunter, abstaining.
“In so many ways football is more than just a game here; it carries the brand or the identity of the school district,” Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon said. “It’s something that is important to us and as we move forward with football [it is important] that we really focus in on the character/education component...in the final analysis Mr. Langella was the coach who could [do that].”
There were a number of candidates considered in the process.
“There were individuals supporting another candidate and some who were supporting Mr. Langella and I laughed at one point because in Mahopac athletics is a religion,” Creedon said. “It’s very important in this community. We keep the young people occupied with athletics. It’s where they meet their neighbors and have fun; but we want them to have the best adults in front of them to mold their character so they are ready for the real world.”
Prior to being the defensive coordinator at Mahopac, Langella had a one-year stint at New Rochelle. Before that, he was the head coach at Irvington for five seasons. From 1990-1994, Langella was the inside linebacker and offensive line coach at New Rochelle and was a part of their first Section 1 Class A title.
“He’s familiar with the program and he was a coordinator for a long time,” Mahopac Athletic Director John Augusta said of Langella. “He had interest in coming back and we went through the process and eventually he was appointed. He’s a teacher here, he’s in the building and he’s enthusiastic. He’s a good motivator, so I’m sure the kids will respond to him in a positive way. He’s knowledgeable and he knows the game.”
Langella, who had two sons come through the Mahopac football program in Frankie and Marsilio, was the defensive coordinator on the Mahopac squad which reached the Section 1 Class AA championship game back in 2010, falling to New Rochelle.
After stepping down as defensive coordinator after the 2013 season, Langella became heavily involved in MSA football. He has been involved with MSA for the last 14 years.
“I just decided to take a few years off and kind of re-learn certain aspects that I felt I needed more time to learn if I decided to come back,” Langella said. “When [Donahoe] left I thought there was an opportunity to come back into the program.”
Langella’s assistant coaches will be Jeff Hughes and Pat Costabile. Hughes will serve as the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He was previously on Mahopac’s varsity staff with Langella. Costabile served as Irvington’s varsity head coach and Haldane’s offensive coordinator.
Langella plans to keep the defensive style similar, but looks to open things up when it comes to the offensive side of the ball.
“The defensive style has been successful,” he said. “In 2010 we reached the sectional championship based on our defensive style. It wasn’t our offensive style. I think in the 21st century we need to have a system that can adapt to the type of players you have. I felt defensively I had established that, now I feel I’m trying to structure an offense that can do that. We’re going to be more open to throwing the ball and certain philosophies. I think that’s what the kids enjoy — that’s what makes practice more exciting. We’re going to incorporate some Oregon spread and some Navy midline packages, which are two of the more effective offenses in college. We’re just trying to model what’s out there and been successful.”
An offseason program will be incorporated called Indian Pride, which stresses weight training and character building.
“Unfortunately, the delay kind of altered how effective I think it will be,” Langella said. “It’s an offseason program where the seniors of the team become captains of squads. We have like 12 squads where we break up the players in the squads and then they compete against each other. Part of the competition is to accumulate involvement in volunteer work outside of the school and inside of the school. It’s getting involved in the community, academics, included with the philosophies we have in the school which are the Strive philosophies. Teachers give awards to students for expanding themselves to help each other. Our players in the program get trained on character. That will help us become better individuals in the community and as individuals on the football field. Then in turn with the Ironman Training Program that we have, which is from the bigger, faster, stronger program, I think we can really get to the next level and that’s my goa —to get to the sectional championship.”
The past few years, the Indians have had difficulty getting past the quarterfinal round, but Langella hopes to change that and knows it will have to be a project that starts from the ground up.
“I think it has to be an effort to collaborate all youth programs all the way up to the varsity program,” Langella said. “I’m really not the head coach of the varsity team, I would say I’m the CEO of the football program. That’s the kind of the attitude that I have to have. I have to be involved with all the aspects of the program. I have to be able to communicate with the parents from all the aspects of the program. We play teams twice our size, so to be able to compete we have to be at our best and the most disciplined that we can be. When we’re not like that we can’t compete. Again, the 2010 team had that type of attitude. And the 2008 team and the 2009 team we had developed this type of attitude and approach, and I think that was the formula of our success. One of my goals is to get back to that level of thinking and I think with that we can move forward to that next level.”
[Mahopac News editor Bob Dumas contributed to this story.]