MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — There are only three football-playing schools in Union County that have not won a state championship in the playoff era, which began in 1974. Governor Livingston High School is one of them, and first-year head coach Pete Ramiccio’s ultimate goal is to knock that number down to two.
Ramiccio, who was hired back in early May to succeed 1998 GL graduate Daniel Guyton as head coach of the Highlanders, is beginning to assemble the troops now, ahead of the first official day of practice, which is Aug. 10.
“We have the kids working now, no pads of course, four days a week, and also in the weight room,” said Ramiccio, 38, who spent the past 12 seasons coaching at Montclair High School, including last year as the interim head coach.
Ramiccio is a 2002 graduate of Lakeland High School and 2006 Syracuse University grad. This is his first head coaching position.
“The moment I left college football, my goal was to have the opportunity one day to run my own program,” said Ramiccio, who was a student-manager at Syracuse and also coached at Iona College for two years.
Ramiccio said that he tried to gather as much information as he could about GL, which includes students who reside in Berkeley Heights and Mountainside. He said that GL graduate Drew Robinson was also a student-manager at Syracuse.
“It appears that GL has not had any sustained success recently,” Ramiccio said. “They seem to pop up every few years.”
GL is coming off a 1-9 season, after the Highlanders won four of six games in the shortened 2020 campaign during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are plenty of returning players to keep an eye on, including sophomores Terrence Hanratty, Jack Dally and Matthew Diskin.
“There is a lot of football learning that needs to be done, including a new offense, defense and special teams,” Ramiccio said. “There’s weight room learning. There are a lot of new habits that will be coming at us quickly.”
GL is one of three Union County schools that will be opening the first weekend of the year, which is Week Zero, the weekend of Aug. 26 and 27. On Friday night, Aug. 26, GL will open its season at rival New Providence, a 6 p.m. kickoff scheduled to take place at New Providence’s Lieder Field.
The neighboring towns wrapped their Thanksgiving Day rivalry last year, one that began in 2002, with New Providence coming out on top by a score of 30-7.
GL has a schedule that will see the Highlanders play nine weeks in a row; there is no bye week. The last week of the regular season, not counting Thanksgiving Day week, is Oct. 21 and 22.
“The only bad thing is if you don’t make the playoffs and play a consolation game the final week in October; then your season could be over before Halloween,” Ramiccio said.
Ramiccio was glad to report that he was able to get the Highlanders two scrimmages. The first is a tri-scrimmage at Parsippany on Aug. 17, scheduled for 10 a.m., that also includes Dover.
GL’s game scrimmage right now is at Ewing on Aug. 20 at 10 a.m.
“Our No. 1 goal right now is beating New Providence,” Ramiccio said. “I think it’s good motivation for the kids that we are now playing them right out of the gate.”