The Long, Productive Life of Wantagh’s First Football Coach, Joe Marcino, WW II Vet,Coach, Teacher

Ralph Sommer, Reporter

The first varsity football coach of Wantagh High School , Joe Marcino, died this past October at age 91. Marcino founded the football program here and coached it from 1954-1963. The Warriors first game was behind Beach Street School where they beat East Rockaway, 25-20.

In 1957 the tickets for regular season games cost about $3 and there was a reserved section between the 40 yard lines. (Today tickets are free except for playoff games, which cost around $5.)

Five of his Wantagh teams lost just once in a season. He was an old school coach who pushed his players like they had never been pushed before but in the end all he wanted was for his players to be successful at the end of every season and leave no regrets, according to Joe Delgais, long-time Lawrence teacher and football coach and currently the 7th grade Wantagh Middle School football coach.

Marcino was also the first wrestling coach at Wantagh. As a result of that, when Mr. Muzio was coaching wrestling here (he is now the head of guidance) he brought Marcino in for a meet and honored him in front of wrestling alumni. “I held an Alumni gathering in honor of Coach Marcino in 2005,” said Mr.Muzio. “It was an honor for me to meet him, and I could see by the those in attendance that he had a tremendous influence on their lives and on the formation of our school culture. He was, in essence, our first warrior.”

Marcino also fought in World War II. While serving with Company A, Fifth Tank Battalion, Fifth Marine Division on Iwo Jima, March 18, 1945, his tank became disabled forward of the enemy lines. For his bravery, Marcino was awarded the Bronze Star for courage under enemy fire.

Marcino was born May 25, 1923, in upstate Whitehall, and graduated from Whitehall High School. “Marcino was a humble man who did his best for his family and all who knew him,” said Delgais, who is known to current Wantagh students as a no nonsense substitute teacher.

After Wantagh Marcino coached Freeport’s football team for 13 years. In 1969, the Red Devils were 7-0-1 and in 1972 they were 7-0-2. Both of those teams won league championships. The ’72 squad tied Bethpage, 6-6, in the county title game and was declared Nassau County co-champion.

As a senior captain of Wantagh’s 2014 football team, I can imagine that playing for Coach Marcino on the first team must have been special. In recent years Marcino must have enjoyed seeing how Coach Sachs has once again built Wantagh into a successful program, contending for a championship each year. Of the eight men who have led Wantagh football, Sachs has coached the most seasons (22), he has won the most games (140), and he has a 65-percent winning percentage after inheriting a depleted program and going 0-8 his first two years.

I am sure Marcino was proud of the players he coached at Wantagh and happy to see where the program is today. I would personally like to thank Joe Marcino for starting the program here at Wantagh and thank all of the alumni who had worked hard when they played and to see the same traditions today that they embraced. If not for all of the coaches, teachers, players and parents I probably wouldn’t have stepped on that field with the pads on fighting with my brothers every Saturday.

Coach Years Regular and Post Season Record Winning %
Marcino 1954-63 50-36-3 56%
Frink 1964-77 61-43-6 55%
Grady 1978-83 32-25-1 55%
Snitofsky 1984-91 24-31-4 41%
Sachs 1992-2010 140-76-1 65%
2010-2014
Casey 2011 9-2 81%
TOTALS 1954-2014 316-213-16 58%