When Tony Fucillo “retired” as the Winthrop High football coach following the 2006 season, most Viking fans felt at some point the legendary mentor would return to the game at some point.
The thinking was that Tony Fucillo was too good at coaching, too passionate about it, and had many more years left to do what he had done better than anyone for decades. While going out on top with an undefeated Super Bowl title in 2006 was the perfect finish to his career at Winthrop High, Fucillo has decided to coach football again.
Fucillo, who celebrated his 61st birthday this week, was named as the new receivers coach for the Tufts University football team. Fucillo’s son, Anthony, will likely be the starting quarterback for the Jumbos, while another Winthrop High, alumnus, Matt Murray, is a returning starter at linebacker
“The opportunity [to coach at Tufts] just kind of fell in my lap,” said Tony Fucillo. “There was a spot on their staff and I guess I happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Fucillo said his decisions have always been based on his family. “The coaching position fits into what I wanted to do this year – watch Anthony play his senior year and attend all his games and see [son] James’s first three games [at Catholic University],” said Fucillo. Both sons were All-Scholastic football players while his daughter, Jennie, a WHS senior, will begin her collegiate track career this winter. “I never would have left Winthrop High if it weren’t for the boys playing college football.”
Tufts head coach Bill Samko was no doubt familiar with Fucillo’s reputation as one of the state’s best high school coaches. Fucillo was the Viking head coach from 1987 to 2006, having previously served as an assistant coach. Fucillo was also a college defensive back at Xavier University in Ohio.
Fucillo has already begun his work at Tufts, meeting with the other coaches and providing input to plans for the 2010 season.
“It’s totally different than what we did at Winthrop High where the Tufts offense is very pass oriented and the Winthrop offense is very run oriented,” said Fucillo. “I feel very comfortable with the coaching staff and the respect that the administrators and the coaches have for each other. It’s been a very impressive situation to me.”
Anthony Fucillo, who was a Tufts captain last season but missed the entire campaign with an injury, is back for a medical redshirt year at quarterback. The handsome 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound senior is excited to be reunited with his father on the football field.
“I’m really excited to have him coaching me again,” said Anthony. “The four years of high school were a great experience for me and my brother and I’m eagerly excited to see him display his coaching skills again and his ability to coach at the college level and show the guys on the team what kind of coach he actually is.”
Fucillo said that his teammate, Matt Murray, is also excited about his father joining the Tufts coaching staff. There is a chance that both Fucillo and Murray could be elected captains of the 2010 team.
“Matt Murray is a tireless worker and comes from a great family,” said Fucillo. “He’s definitely a great leader on this team. He led the team in tackles last year so we’ll be expecting a big year out of Matt.”
Fucillo said although he left Winthrop High in 2005 and went on to Colgate University before transferring to Tufts, his father has always been available to advise him on football matters.
“I don’t think my father ever stopped being my coach football wise,” said Anthony. “Now it’s more official again. My father has worked with me during the summer. Tufts is putting in a new offense so I’m learning and he’s learning at the same time. It will be really good to be home this summer and work with him on our offense.”
Tony Fucillo said he will bring the same work ethic to the Tufts program that he did at Winthrop. But if Tufts becomes the premier passing offense in the NESCAC and Jumbo receivers are finding more seams in opposing secondaries, Winthrop fans will recognize Fucillo’s imprint.
“I’ll certainly give my new job the same attention to detail and effort that I gave to Winthrop High School,” said Fucillo.