By MIKE SMITH
On July 27, scores of past Mamaroneck football players congregated on Memorial Field to once again lace up their cleats and hit the gridiron for the third-annual Tiger Football Alumni Game. Though the event gave the Mamaroneck alums a chance to relive past glories, it also served as a link between generations and a celebration of the Tiger tradition.
Mamaroneck head coach Anthony Vitti is no stranger to the importance of Mamaroneck’s football history. A Tiger player in the 1990s, Vitti is a Mamaroneck lifer and set his sights on re-establishing the connection his program had with its alums when he was named head coach three years ago.
“I grew up here, my parents both went to Mamaroneck, so I grew up with the lore of Mamaroneck football,” he said. “I got to see the pictures, the film, and I guess when we took this thing over, we wanted to recapture that alumni attention.”
While most of the alumni who turned out for the game suited up for Mamaroneck from 2000 on, there were a number of players from the 1990s on hand, and even some notables from the 1960s who showed up.
Sal Ticli, who played on Mamaroneck’s fabled 1963 team, first came in contact with Vitti’s team during the 2012 Vietnam Memorial project and quickly found that he–and other past Tigers–were embraced by the current coaches and players alike.
“I got close to the 2012 team and we did a lot of things that were good,” said Ticli. “I had drifted away from Mamaroneck football, but now I’m back into it.”
Ticli and his former teammates were quick to praise Vitti not only for his on-field success, but also for his acknowledgement of the program’s link to the past.
“He’s immersed in Mamaroneck High School football,” said Richard Martinson, who graduated in 1966. “He knows about the tradition, the great teams, and he wants to see it happen again. And I think it’s happening.”
“He’s a class kid and class rubs off on class,” Ticli said. “He works these kids hard. He’s an old-fashioned coach with new ideas.”
Vitti has also given a sly nod to the past with the Tigers new uniforms this season, threads that consciously evoke the spirit of those 1960s teams.
“You look at some of these schools, like Oregon, who have these new uniforms every year,” said Vitti. “But then you look at Penn State, Notre Dame, Alabama. Places with great history, who haven’t changed much. That’s kind of what we were going for.”
At the very least, said Vitti, he hopes that events such as these will inspire his team to be cognizant of the eras that came before them, and the lessons learned by their predecessors on the gridiron.
“It seems like you can’t turn a channel without seeing some negative publicity about football, especially in high school football, but, ultimately, this is something that helps young boys become men,” Vitti said. “It may just not be something you realize right away, it might be 20 years down the line.”