By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Lyndhurst High School made major strides last week toward what is apparently the future of the athletic department.
The school announced that Rich Tuero had been appointed as the new head football coach and Jeff Radigan was hired as the school’s new athletic director.
Both Tuero and Radigan are Lyndhurst High School graduates.
Tuero, 29, was the head coach of the junior varsity team last year and served as an assistant under former head coach Joe Castagnetti.
Radigan, 35, is the former boys’ basketball coach and current assistant baseball coach. He will replace the retiring Frank “Butch” Servideo in September.
For Tuero, it’s a position he always longed for.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Tuero, who becomes the youngest head football coach in the school’s history. “From the day that I met Coach (Jim) Vuono (the long-time grid coach), I knew that this is what I wanted to do some day. I just didn’t think it would happen this soon.”
Tuero played along the offensive and defensive line for Vuono, graduating in 2002. He then moved on to play at Montclair State University, playing for the legendary Rick Giancola.
“Honestly, they have two totally different coaching styles,” Tuero said. “Coach Vuono was more of a motivator and intense. Coach Giancola is much calmer and has a business as usual approach. They both helped me learn how I wanted to be as a coach.”
Upon graduation from Montclair State, Tuero immediately returned to his Lyndhurst roots and became an assistant coach as well as a teacher’s aide. He was hired full-time as a health and physical education teacher in 2012.
Tuero said that working under Castagnetti helped him prepare to take over for the veteran coach, who resigned at the end of last season for family reasons.
“He gave me a lot of responsibility,” Tuero said. “I learned about every aspect of coaching. I learned a lot about the off-the-field responsibility. When Joe told me he was stepping down, I said, ‘Here we go.’ I didn’t think I had a shot to get the job. If it wasn’t for Coach Vuono and my wife (Koriann), I never would have even applied. Coach Vuono encouraged me and my wife was all over me, telling me that I better put in for the job.”
Tuero was given the head coaching position.
“This is like making the NFL for me,” Tuero said. “This is all I ever wanted. I can’t put it into words.”
Tuero said that he already has met with the prospective players last week.
“We had the first meeting and I was amazed with the turnout,” Tuero said. “We had 52 kids at the meeting. I was so pumped. A lot of the kids said that they never played football before. I want to get kids who are athletic. I looked around at the meeting and there was practically my entire JV team. So I’ve worked with the kids already. The kids all know me. They’re in the weight room and we are working on the offseason workout program.” Tuero and wife Koriann are the parents of a 19-month-old daughter Sophia Rose. The couple are Lyndhurst natives.
Radigan will serve as one of Servideo’s assistants in the legendary coach’s final season this spring before taking over as athletic director in the fall. “I have some really good ideas about what I would like to do,” Radigan said. “I’m really excited to be able to work with the kids. I want to continue to build the Lyndhurst tradition.” Radigan, who graduated from Lyndhurst High in 1996, knows that he will have a tough job, replacing a man like Servideo, who has given almost his entire life to Lyndhurst athletics.
“I definitely have some big shoes to fill,” Radigan said. “Butch did some great things as athletic director for years. I hope to bring some ideas, but I definitely will be calling Butch a lot for advice and he knows it. I have other great people in the coaching staff that I can lean on. I’m really surrounded by great coaches and people.”
Radigan is currently a history teacher at the school.
“It will definitely be different, dealing with the kids on a different level,” Radigan said.
Radigan said that he has his late father James to thank for becoming the new AD.
“My father passed away three years ago,” Radigan said. “Before he died, he urged me to go back and get my athletic administration certificate. He thought I could bring the Lyndhurst programs to another level with my knowledge and personality. He was right. This is a great opportunity for me.
Added Radigan, “I’m excited to be able to do this in the community that I love. The people in Lyndhurst are so close knit and try to help each other out. I’m only the fifth athletic director in the school’s history, so it’s a job that I plan to keep for a long time.”
Tuero already has his first game circled on the schedule.
“It’s Waldwick, Friday, Sept. 12 at home at 7 p.m.,” Tuero said. “I’m already pumped. Our goal is to get better every day. We’re going to have a young team. I know that. But I already told the kids that no one thought I had a shot to get this job. No one thinks this team can win losing 22 seniors. Who cares what they say? If we focus on getting better every day, the wins will come.”
At the very least, the Lyndhurst Board of Education has two young and energetic home grown products to lead the athletic program into the years to come.