NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Iona Preparatory School has turned to one of its own to fill its varsity football head coaching vacancy. Joe Spagnolo, a 1998 Iona Prep Upper School graduate and former varsity quarterback, has been named head coach. Spagnolo, a longtime assistant coach at Archbishop Stepinac, succeeds Vic Quirolo, who chose to step down last month after 13 years as head football coach, but remains the Gaels’ head basketball coach.
“Joe brings passion, energy and an organizational skill set that we found very attractive,” said Iona Prep Director of Athletics Bernard A. Mahoney, who received more than 30 applications for the coaching position. “We’ve seen the success that he’s been a part of at Stepinac, and his familiarity with us and the league also played a big role (in his hiring).”
“I’m excited to be back; it’s been a long time,” said Spagnolo, adding that he got chills being back at his alma mater for the interview. “I’m thrilled about the opportunity.”
Spagnolo, 36, was Stepinac’s offensive coordinator for the last 10 years and associate head coach for the last five. During his tenure, he helped coach a quartet of Journal News Player of the Year winners – Rashaad Slowley (2007), Tyrell Goodman (2010), Austin Taps (2011) and T.J. Morrison (2015) – and the Crusaders excelled as a team, particularly recently. The Crusaders were 12-0 last season and won the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) state championship. In 2014, their lone loss came in the CHSAA state final.
The Gaels, meanwhile, will look to improve upon their 2-7 showing in 2015, just a year after they advanced to the CHSAA AAA final against Stepinac. Mahoney doesn’t think the Gaels will have to wait long for a turnaround under Spagnolo.
"He speaks about the program more than just the team – he’ll bring together all levels, Mahoney said. "He’s the right guy at the right time.”
“The biggest thing in high school sports is putting kids in the right positions to be successful,” Spagnolo said, adding that the academic and athletic competition he faced as a student at Iona prepared him well. “I would not have been as prepared for college had I not gone to Iona Prep.”
Spagnolo is a 2002 graduate of Bryant College, having transferred from Siena College following his sophomore year; he played quarterback for both. He grew up in nearby Eastchester, where he played Blue Devils football. Spagnolo lives with his wife, Laura, and 10-month-old son, Joseph, in Mamaroneck.