Phil Treglia is something of a football lifer.
From starting quarterback at Iona Prep in the early 1990s to coaching stints at Hackley and Stepinac in Westchester, and — most recently — Staples High School in Connecticut, football has coursed through Treglia’s veins for quite some time.
But an arduous travel schedule — one that had Treglia driving an hour each way from his job as a guidance counselor at Iona Prep to Westport, Connecticut, each day during the football season last year — proved to be exhausting. So when the head coaching position at Riverdale Country School became available, it provided Treglia the perfect opportunity to lead a program much closer to home.
“It was tough going back and forth to Staples,” Treglia said, “but to tell you the truth, I’d much rather talk about Riverdale football and its future than my travel schedule.”
In football terms, Treglia is brand new to the job as Falcons’ head coach, having accepted the position “right before Memorial Day,” he said. But in that time, he has made it his objective to dive right in and learn about and help turn around a program that slumped last season.
“In any new experience you’re getting to know one another,” Treglia said. “But we had a minicamp in June where we got to practice, and we got to know some of the boys. I also went to some lacrosse games to see some of the boys play other sports, and I went to the school at lunchtime to meet some of the boys because we were trying to get a head start and hit the ground running.”
Falcons preseason camp has been under way for a few weeks now, and in that time, Treglia has learned a lot about his new program.
“The kids have been great,” Treglia said. “They’re eager to learn and I think they’re learning a new way to play football. We’re a young team, so there is a lot of room for growth. But the boys are sticking together and they’re learning how to work with one another and build camaraderie and teamwork, and that’s really what we’re trying to teach as a football team. We’re getting there.”
As far as the team, Treglia likes what he sees from both his offensive and defensive lines, and is excited about his depth at both quarterback and the skill positions.
Four players already have caught his eye as the versatile foursome of David Korn, Jonathan Faber, Connor O’Neil and Harry Landis has shined early.
“David is a junior and Jonathan is a senior who is a captain in our skill positions, and they’re both doing a very nice job in leading the team,” Tregila said.
Korn will start on the offensive line and at linebacker while Faber will play receiver and defensive back. At quarterback, Treglia will ride with O’Neil, Landis — or both.
“We have two strong quarterbacks, in Connor, who is a 10th grader, and Harry, who is a senior,” the new coach said. “They’re both learning, they’re both getting a feel of the offense, they’re both going to play, and they both play other positions as well. So they are both very valuable to our team.”
Riverdale will be a bit on the younger side this season, with a sizable amount of its roster comprised of underclassmen. But it gives Treglia a chance to take a peek into the immediate future.
“Most of our players are 10th and 11th graders, so we’re going to have a lot of guys back next year,” Treglia said. “We’re teaching a new terminology football-wise. We’re teaching a new offense, we’re teaching a new defense, so really everyone is young in learning the way we do it.”
However the Falcons fare in Treglia’s first season, the football-lifer is excited for his new job and new challenges.
“I love to teach and coach kids and help them learn the game of football, and that’s what excites me about this opportunity,” Treglia said. “To teach the kids, with my coaching staff, how to be successful in the game and to learn from adversity and how that can help them in their later life when they become adults, that’s what I want to do.”
Treglia will roam the sidelines in his first game as Falcons head coach Sept. 7 when Riverdale travels to nearby Horace Mann for opening day.
“That should be a lot of fun,” Treglia said. “The kids know each other, the families know each other and our schools are so close. That’s exciting, and the boys have been talking about it and it’s something that we’re building up to.
“We know Horace Mann has a strong program, and they were very successful last year (winning the Ivy League championship). So we’re trying to work hard to be up to that challenge.”