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Sullivan County Democrat Football Coach of the Year

Kevin Crudele brings home Section IX chip in second year

Anthony Morgano
Posted 12/27/22

GRAHAMSVILLE – Taking over as a head coach can be a daunting task, but a way to make the transition a bit easier would be starting as an assistant within the program.

Cue Kevin Crudele, …

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Sullivan County Democrat Football Coach of the Year

Kevin Crudele brings home Section IX chip in second year


GRAHAMSVILLE – Taking over as a head coach can be a daunting task, but a way to make the transition a bit easier would be starting as an assistant within the program.

Cue Kevin Crudele, who just completed his sixth season with the Tri-Valley Bears, his second as the Head Coach, taking over a program that was successful under the leadership of coaches Greg Botsford and Jon Allison. 

After finishing 3-6 last season, the Bears turned their season around and finished 8-3 in their 2022 campaign, which earned him the Sullivan County Democrat Football Coach of the Year honor for 2022.

“There were definitely some growing pains taking over last year, things that I thought would work didn’t,” Crudele explained.

The Bears faced plenty of challenges this year, but preparation before each opponent played a pivotal role in their Championship season.

The Bears opened their season with a big win over Dover, 21-0, before heading to Spackenkill to take on the defending champs. The Bears lost 24-22 but it was clear that something was different about this Tri-Valley team.

“We had a lot of respect for Spackenkill’s players and coaches, and we both hoped to see each other again at the end of the season,” Kevin said.

After facing the defending champs, the Bears won a close game against Ellenville, 16-14. Then, another playoff team from last season, Livingston Manor/Roscoe, but the Bears won that game 48-14.

Tri-Valley had a similar win against Fallsburg, defeating the Comets 44-14 before facing Eldred on the road. The Bears had a great first half and held on for a 22-8 win over the Yellowjackets.

To end the regular season, sitting at a 5-1 (4-0) record, the Bears headed to Sullivan West with the division on the line.

The Bulldogs defeated the Bears 26-6, and it cost Tri-Valley a bye-week.

“The loss to Sullivan West was vital to our success,” Kevin said. “It’s great to be humbled, it gave us coaching points on film. We couldn’t have played a worse football game if we tried, so it helped to be able to put that up on the board and see those things.”

In the first round of the playoffs, the Bears hosted Pine Plains, and a high scoring game resulted in a 45-38 Bears victory.

Their next stop on the championship run was Pawling, a team that had, at that point, been undefeated. Pawling was a championship favorite, playing at home in the semifinals. The Bears won. A 32-26 victory for Tri-Valley meant a trip to Spackenkill for the championship game.

“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to be playing for the Section IX championship at Spackenkill. Once we knew we were playing Spackenkill in Spackenkill, it didn’t change our preparation.”

In the Section IX Championship game, Tri-Valley handed Spackenkill a 43-20 loss, and brought the Fred Ahart Trophy back to Sullivan County.

Kevin, who is a physical education teacher at Tri-Valley, has been there long enough to build a rapport with the students and future varsity players. And it paid off this season with a championship campaign.

After winning a championship as a second-year assistant for Tri-Valley in 2018, this championship differed from that campaign, not only because of Kevin taking over the helm.

“There’s something different about teaching these kids for the past 5-6 years, I have a much better relationship with every player because now I know them for real,” Crudele said.

When it comes to high school coaching, being flexible with your plan is integral to your success. What works one year might not work the next.

“With high school football, and sports in general, you have to build your plan around the skillset that your players have,” Crudele explained. “You can’t install the same system year after year and expect to find success.”

“We had talent this year, and we had kids invested in the program. Because of that we were able to deploy multiple systems against different opponents.”

Many of the systems from this season revolved around Sullivan County Democrat MVP Austin Hartman, the speedy quarterback that helped open up the triple-option running game for the Bears all season long.

However, support for the players and the team goes far beyond the coaching staff.

“We have a really good booster club, we get a lot of support from administration, faculty and Mr. [Jason] Closs is a very supportive Athletic Director,” Kevin said.

Not only have the players bought into the systems and the team, but many of them are also getting involved with youth programs to help develop the future of Tri-Valley Football.

“The kids want to leave an impact on the future. Some of them have cousins and siblings in the youth program and want to help them,” Crudele said. I’m blessed with a good staff as well. Having a staff that has always been in Grahamsville makes my job easier. I can get full scouting reports, and additional players just because of people that support the program.”

 When asked about his coaching philosophy, Coach Crudele spoke about the mutual respect between him and the players.

“I try to be myself. I don’t pretend to be anybody and the kids recognize that,” he said. “I show them respect and I’m honest with them and I get that respect back. At the end of the day, you try to make it fun for the kids, because it’s something they’re supposed to remember fondly for the rest of their lives. But I try to remind them that we can have more fun with winning.”

During the season, every week Coach Crudele tries to get his team into the mindset of going 1-0. Rather than dwelling on a bad game or getting overconfident after a good one, preparing for the team in front of them helped the team to stay focused on their goal of bringing home the Section IX Championship. And now that they have it, they get to defend it.

“I’m excited for all the possibilities that next season will bring. We’re going to have a lot of spots to fill next year, and the team is going to have an entirely different look. But I’m excited to defend the Section IX title rather than have to go out and win one.”

While Coach Crudele was pleased with the season and the coaching awards presented to him, including the 2022 Sullivan County Democrat Football Coach of the Year award, he was also very thankful for the support that he and the team have received.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have a team with excellent senior leadership and a program full of support and great people around me. It definitely made my life easier,” Crudele explained. “I can’t thank everybody enough, from my supportive family and girlfriend, the other physical education teachers, the administration and my coaching staff. They all play a huge part in this.”

Crudele concluded by saying, “It’s a great place to work and there are great kids to coach. I feel lucky every day that I get to work here and step out onto the practice field overlooking the mountains and see the bald eagles fly over. It’s truly just a special place.”


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