Pat Liverio is going out as a champion, but the retiring Amsterdam football coach has an even bigger prize on his wish list, one he’s claimed six times before.
Amsterdam has already played some awfully good football, winning all seven of its games and the Class A Northwest Division title as a prelude to the Section II tournament. Liverio-coached teams have captured six Class A banners, and the No. 1-seeded Rugged Rams will begin their quest for another tonight at home against Lansingburgh (No. 4, 4-3).
“We’re hoping,” Liverio said. “We did the work to get where we are now. In order to get it done, to get where we want to go, we’ve got to play better in the second season.
“We thought our first three games with Queensbury, Burnt Hills and Glens Falls would be our most difficult, and they were. The competition is going to bounce back up now. We’ve got to be ready to jump back up.”
Amsterdam roughed up Scotia-Glenville, 47-0, and Colonie, 44-14, in the last two weeks of the regular season.
The Rams failed to make the playoffs for the only time in Liverio’s 16-year run in 2009, and lost a quarterfinal game to Bishop Maginn last year, 35-21, on its home turf field. That marked Amsterdam’s first playoff-opening loss since 1994.
“It ended so sudden. It was one game, bang, and we were done. We don’t want to go through that again,” said Liverio. “All of the seniors on our team know what happened. We didn’t play our best football.”
The Rugged Rams have been one of the area’s best defensive teams this year, giving up just 37 points, and no more than seven points in any of their six wins against Class A opponents. They collected seven turnovers in their 23-7 signature victory in Week 2 against three-time defending Section II champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
“Our kids were pointing to that game. They knew what our track record had been against them, and they proved to themselves that they can play with the best in the section,” Liverio said.
Amsterdam will be looking to add to its 27-8 Section II playoff record under Liverio tonight. Liverio’s teams have gone 8-5 in the state tournament and 128-33-1 overall since he took took over the program for Frank Derrico in 1996. Five of his teams won outright Big 10 titles, his 1999 team and those from 2001-2005 claimed Section II banners, and the school’s T.J.-Czeski-led 2005 edition went on to secure the state Class A championship.
As a defensive coordinator, Liverio helped Amsterdam win its first state championship in 1995.
“When I got the job, we had lost so many great players from our state title team. I remember saying we had to be patient,” said Liverio. “I also remember getting a lot of phone calls telling me we don’t reload at Amsterdam and you’ve got to win now. That put a lot of pressure on, but that’s OK. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Amsterdam’s all-time victory leader has guided the Rugged Rams to a pair of nine-win seasons, a pair 10-win seasons, and 11 triumphs in 1999, 2001 and 2005. Only his 2009 group failed to win more games than it lost.
When Amsterdam’s playoff run is complete, Liverio will depart with one of the great coaching resumes in Section II football history. His ledger includes eight Section II title-game appearances in nine years beginning in 1997, and his five consecutive championships tied Rensselaer (1991-95) and Troy (1996-2000) for the area record.
“It’s time. It’s been 28 years and 16 as head coach. My wife and family, it’s time for them,” said the 50-year-old Lierio, whose son, Nick, is a senior on this year team. “I’m going out at a good time.”
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: High School Sports