Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) announced Tony Mottola will be the next person to lead the football team after former MVRHS head football Coach Donald Herman retired in December.
“I am beyond excited about this opportunity,” Mottola told the Times.
MVRHS athletic director Mark McCarthy said five candidates were interviewed via Zoom for the position by the hiring committee.
“Tony had a great interview. He had a very impressive résumé as well, and the committee just felt that he was the guy to take us through the next version of Vineyard football,” McCarthy said.
An impressive résumé is definitely something Mottola brought to the table. Mottola began his football coaching career in the ’90s as a quality control coach with the Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL. He stayed with them for five seasons, which included the team’s move to Oakland, and also worked as a wide receiver coach and linebacker coach. Mottola continued his career as a linebacker coach with the New York/New Jersey Hitmen during the original run of the XFL. After finishing up coaching at the professional level, Mottola has coached at a private high school and at the collegiate level. For the past 21 years, he has coached football at public schools. Mottola was with Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest in New Jersey for the past 13 years, where he was the football head coach, before the Martha’s Vineyard hiring.
When asked why he decided to move from the professional level to high school, Mottola said he was looking for more stability in his career after the XFL, which shut its doors after only one season.
“It’s volatile to be a football coach at the college level, and especially at the professional level,” Mottola said. “It’s been a bit of a journey, but it’s really been something that I just absolutely love — coaching at the high school level. I mean, talk about the rawest point of a young man’s life and career, and all that. It’s exciting to build those boys into men, as you can say, and get them ready for whatever’s next.”
MVRHS’ football program was also looking for stability in hiring a new head coach, according to McCarthy.
“We’ve had a little bit of a turnover in the position over the past several years, so we’re hoping that Tony can bring a stability to the program where we can keep the head coach in the position for several years to come,” McCarthy told the Times. He hopes hiring Mottola means introducing new ideas, philosophies, and perspectives in the football program’s direction. “Our goal is to turn the football program around the way it was years ago.”
Relationship building is big for Mottola, and he plans to establish that with the team, the students’ parents, and the Island community after coming to the Vineyard. Mottola said developing trust was important to “allow the kids to grow.”
“They need to trust the environment that they are in, and know that they’re in a safe place that has their best interests at heart,” Mottola said. To achieve this goal, Mottola said he wants to get the parents “heavily involved.”
Mottola plans to come to Martha’s Vineyard as soon as possible, so he can meet the team and parents to “put a face to the name.”
“With housing the way it is on the Island, as you know, that is a major, major obstacle. So we are really trying hard to figure something out to get there as soon as possible,” Mottola said. “Ideally, I would love to be over there by the beginning of July, so I can have the time in the summer with the kids, working out and just getting to know them and all that stuff, and hit the ground running because, you know, that Nantucket game is right around the corner, so we got to get ready to rock and roll.”
When asked about his thoughts on the MVRHS field issue, Mottola said, “At this point, I don’t really have a comment on that. I’m not familiar enough with the ins and outs of it. I’m not familiar with the field itself.” Mottola said turf fields are the norm where he is, Monroe, N.Y., and has seen turf fields very close to bodies of water, such as at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy or Maine Maritime Academy. However, he acknowledged the environment on Martha’s Vineyard as an Island may have different needs from what he has seen. “If we’re talking about safety for the kids, I’m all about 100 percent — whatever that safety measure is,” Mottola said.
McCarthy said the next step is to have Mottola meet the team and parents through Zoom.