Even though the East Providence High football team didn’t begin preseason practice until August 14, new head coach Jay Monteiro already had a motto to present to his players: CAD.
That’s an acronym which stands for “Character, Academics and Discipline.”
While CAD may be a good starting point, Monteiro knows he faces a big challenge not only because he’s replacing arguably one of the best coaches in the history of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, Sandy Gorham, but also because he’s inheriting a program that’s fallen on hard times.
Gorham, who retired earlier this summer, was the Townies head coach for 20 years.
During his tenure, East Providence:
* Captured five Division I Super Bowl championships (the last was in 2006).
* Was the old Class A runner-up in 1995 and the Division I runner-up in 2001.
* Qualified for the Division I playoffs from 2009-11 (when the league implemented a new post-season format).
* Recorded undefeated seasons in 1997, 1999 and 2003.
But the Townies won only three of 18 regular-season Division I games during the last two years. In addition, they lost nine of their last 10 Thanksgiving Day games against arch-rival La Salle Academy.
Monteiro, an EP alumnus (Class of ’84), was a Townie assistant coach from 1989-2003, including the last eight seasons under Gorham. He then joined the staff of Bryant University head coach Marty Fine as a part-time assistant while also maintaining his teaching position.
After a brief hiatus, he served as an assistant coach last season on the staff of Dean Junior College coach Todd Vasey.
“When Sandy became the coach, I always had the aspiration to become the head coach at EP,” said Monteiro. “When I went onto coaching at Bryant, Sandy was talking about retiring for two or three years.
“A couple of people talked to me about applying for the job, plus I always wanted to give back to the community. That’s why I applied for the job and was fortunate to get it.”
Because Monteiro had coached at the high school and college levels, he brings a wealth of experience.
“You learn from a lot of different coaches,” said Monteiro. “The type of coaches I’ve been around possessed the experience I can bring back (to high school). The experience of being around guys at the highest level, including Josh Boyer, who’s with the Patriots, is invaluable.
“I feel like I can bring a lot of that knowledge plus the passion which will help me turn around the program. When I was at Bryant, Marty helped turn around that program along with making the transition from Division II to Division I.”
He continued, “I believe I can change it because I was part of that turn-around program when Sandy got the job (in 1994).I know from a high school aspect how to turn around a program. I learned how to run it in a college atmosphere. From Marty Fine, I learned organization.”
At the risk of stating the obvious, Monteiro couldn’t help but learn a lot during his years on Gorham’s staff.
“Passion,” Monteiro said in reply to a question. “Sandy Gorham had a lot of passion and knowledge of the game. Sandy gave one of the best half-time speeches I ever heard and it would get you going so you would want to play.”
Monteiro already has carved in cement one aspect of his program that he wants to implement.
“I want to teach them how to practice hard and fast,” he said. “I want to practice really fast and throw it at them fast. I’ve learned more about how to organize practice and do it fast.
“I want to try to get 20 plays done in 10 minutes. When you practice fast, come game time when the kids practice like that they’ll play fast.”
Monteiro helped implement a weight program when he was a Townie assistant. Again, that’s going to be a major component of his program.
“When I got the job, the kids weren’t utilizing the weight room,” he said. “I demanded that they work out in the weight room. This summer I had 50 to 60 kids in the weight room.”
“I want to teach them to work together as a team and to teach them passion and how to practice,” said Monteiro. “I want to teach them to have good character and that they’re young gentlemen.
“And it’s the school first for academics and then self-discipline – to work hard on the field and in the classroom.”
Besides what Monteiro hopes to accomplish on the field, he may also have to handle the pressure that comes from a city that is passionate about the school’s football team.
“There’s always pressure,” he said. “My whole thing is I’m going to work hard. I want the parents and fans to know we’re going to work hard. I want them to graduate from high school and have great discipline. I’m a great believer in discipline as a recipe for success.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. But my passion to give back is first and foremost. People know I am who I am. I’m going to work hard every day.”
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.