Football Preview: Co-defensive coordinators mold tenacious Mounties ‘D’
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
by Andrew Garda
Communication is important on the football field, whether it’s between coaches, between players, between players and coaches, and, most importantly, between coordinators and players.
So how does it work for the Montclair Mounties when they have two defensive coordinators—Jamie Bittner and Pete Ramiccio?
Pretty smoothly, as it turns out.
“I always emphasize the co-coach with Bittner and I,” Ramiccio, who enters his eight year with the team, said of their relationship.
“We’re very much on the same page.”
Bittner, who has been with the Mounties 18 years, agrees.
“We talk about everything,” Bittner said. “It’s kind of funny, because he’ll say things I am thinking about or I’ll say things he’s thinking about already. So it’s really...been a pleasure.”
It helps that the two split responsibilities down the middle. Ramiccio handles the secondary and overall formations, while Bittner manages the linebackers and the scheme for the defensive front of backers and defensive linemen.
For both men, getting after the ball is a vital part of their defensive mindset.
“Our main philosphy on defense is relentless pursuit of the football,” Ramiccio said. “We want 11 hats on the ball at all times, We want guys flying around the field. The relentless pursuit...and controlled aggression are probalbly our two biggest [focuses].”
On game days, Ramiccio will head up to the press box crow’s nest for an airborne view while Bittner stays on the sideline. The two are in constant communication via radio headsets, so that Ramiccio can relay formations as soon as he sees them while Bittner can tell his co-coordinator what is happening on the ground and make adjustments based on Ramiccio’s observations.
“We give feedback to each other,” Bittner said. “I usually make the calls, but also ask [Ramiccio] his opinion on where [the defense] needs to go in terms of man or zone.”
The constant back and forth allows the defense to be fluid, adjusting to the opponant and changing formation or personnel if need be.
Once the game is done, the work isn’t.
Sunday, Bittner and Ramiccio are joined by Vincent Pelli, who handles the defensive line coaching with Daniel Roberts and Henry Wilson, who helps Bittner at linebacker. The group takes a long look at the previous game as well as film from their next opponent.
“We...grade our kids...and make our laundry list of things we want to clean up,” Ramiccio said. “Then, Coach Bittner kind of does an overview. He [focuses] on the big things. [Wilson] labels all the run plays for the upcoming week. I’ll do all the passes, and I’ll label all the formations. Coach Pelli will label any blocking schemes. Once all the labels are in, we can run our reports on HUDL [a film library of previous games] and Monday after the junior varsity game, we break the report down, then start drawing plays up and drawing up our schemes.”
The defensive staff does anywhere from three to five films of their upcoming opponent, while also giving notes to their own players on what they need to do differently and how they can improve.
Bittner said they have a general plan for the next week on Monday, add a few things on Tuesday and have their gameplan by Wednesday, which leaves Thursday and a walkthrough on Friday for adjustments.
Then it’s back to the sideline and crow’s nest for the co-defensive coordinators to watch their team execute.
It’s a grind, but neither coach would have it any other way and both enjoy working with each other—and the rest of the staff—immensely.
“It’s a great staff,” Bittner said. “We all get along together, they’re all very knowledgeable, work hard, and are dedicated to the kids. I don’t know if there is a better staff out there, We’re fortunate to have the guys we have.”