Two things caught my eye in the Red Jacket football team’s 34-27 win over Clyde-Savannah on Friday. The first one being just how good the Indians are on both sides of the ball. The second being the close relationship between the team and the Manchester and Shortsville community.
Even though Clyde is about 30 minutes away from Red Jacket, Indians fans easily filled up the visiting bleachers and loudly cheered the team on. After the final whistle, first-year coach Marc Vitticore briefly addressed his team and then allowed them to run to the sideline to celebrate with the fans. Vitticore must’ve received a congratulatory hug or handshake from every person in the crowd.
Vitticore knows what football means to this community. The 1997 Red Jacket graduate grew up around the program, as his father Dom coached the Indians from 1974 to 2000. When I first met the younger Vitticore in February, he told me how special it is to be a Red Jacket Indian. The coaching staff is full of people who understand that.
Dom Vitticore is back as the offensive coordinator and Bruce Knapp, who spent 25 years as an offensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Red Jacket, came out of retirement to join the staff. Coaches Frank Mullen, Michael Nurse, Matt Rice, Joe Devey, Shawn Pollock and Marc Vitticore all played under Dom Vitticore.
On the first official day of football practice, I asked seniors Cyrus Baker and Matt Skinner what was motivating them to be up early and working hard. They said they wanted to bring Red Jacket football back to the community and do whatever it took to make the community proud. At 6-0 the Indians have given fans plenty to be proud of.
Offensively, Red Jacket has a stable of talented running backs. Kory Fogarty, Andrew Ogrodowski, Shane Coyne, Colby Cuthbertson and Baker are all hard-nosed, physical runners who can move the chains. Tyler Liberty, a first-year varsity quarterback, has shown a good connection with speedy wide out Dominic Vasquez and tight end Michael Giaconia, who Liberty described as being, “as tall as a tree.”
Defensively, the Indians have displayed the ability to make timely big plays and shut down an opposing offense when they need to. Red Jacket didn’t allow Clyde-Savannah’s high-powered offense to score a point after halftime on Friday.
The Indians are a physical team, but no one hits harder than Ogrodowski. The team’s big defensive linemen free the sophomore linebacker up to make plays in the backfield.
The players are also selfless, always crediting teammates, who they call brothers, for helping them get into the end zone or make a big defensive play.
Red Jacket locked up a share of the Finger Lakes West League title with Friday’s win. If the Indians can beat Marcus Whitman this Friday, they’ll be the league’s only champion.
Page 2 of 2 - The last time Red Jacket won a league title was 1998. That’s also the first year Marc Vitticore coached alongside his father. That year the league title also came down to a close game between Clyde-Savannah and Red Jacket, which the Indians won on a late kickoff return. Red Jacket went on to win the Section 5 championship.
The Indians are currently the top-seeded team for Class DD sectionals. If they can go all the way it would be the school’s fourth sectional title.