About the club
The Brooklyn Tech Engineers Football Team
The History of Brooklyn Tech (Brooklyn, N.Y.) Football is very interesting – beginning in the 1920s with Coach Joe Milde. Although little information could be found about him, he coached Adam J. Cirillo, the heart and soul of Brooklyn Tech Football. Cirillo, who graduated in 1929, earned the honor of All-City Defensive End, and went on to play for Lafayette College. At Lafayette, he majored in Civil Engineering and became the captain during the 1932 season. Although records from his time are mostly unavailable; it is said that he was voted to an All-American team by some publications for their division. During these years there was no football at Tech, due to the Great Depression.
In 1939, Cirillo came back to Tech and became the head coach. He had early successes with City Championships in 1943, 1946, 1947 and 1948. He brought innovation to city football by taking the team away for football camp and playing out-of-state opponents. In addition to these accomplishments, Cirillo was also an entrepreneur. He opened a store just down the street from Brooklyn Tech HS that still stands today, Brooklyn Sporting Goods Co.
Adam Cirillo used football "as a means to an end" to send his players to college. In order to do this, he kept in contact with many coaches. He was a friend to both renowned Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno and the late legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. Some of Lombardi's practices and ideologies can be witnessed throughout Tech History. For instance, Lombardi time – the idea that one should arrive 10-15 minutes early or else he would be considered late. This was only one of his ideologies that the players, still to this day, adhere to.
During these early years, Tech used a no-spread offense. This changed when Vince Lombardi joining the Green Bay Packers. Within Lombardi's first year at Green Bay, Tech had a new offensive scheme that is still used to this day – known as the "Lombardi sweep" in the NFL – a simple yet practical play.
Lombardi and Cirillo believed in supporting their players as long as they tried their hardest. This ideology is consistent throughout Tech History. One of the things Cirillo was most known for was the fact that "he couldn't get anyone's name right, even if your name was Smith," remembers alumnus Joe Pangia, who played for Cirillo and is an assistant coach. Who has also coached under every head coach at Tech with the exception of Milde. Pangia says that this was not only due to Cirillo's bad memory, but also for comic relief and to break tension. He would often create nicknames based on certain characteristics or stories.
Cirillo's on-field successes continued in the ‘50s, with another three consecutive City Championships beginning in 1955. Again, Cirillo managed to wow spectators with his final official championships in 1960 and 1961. Due to PSAL changes there were no championships held, but Tech was known as the "mythical City Champions." After the 1969 season, Adam Cirillo retired from the Head Coach position, but he continued as an assistant coach. He passed away in 1982, but his legacy lives on, annually at the homecoming as well as a scholarship awarded in his name, which started in 1968 and is given to one or two students a year. This scholarship was once $25, but is now $10,000.
During the 1960's, Joe Cuzzocrea became the coach of the Junior Varsity. He was only given a rag with a knot tied in it to be used as a football. It was obvious that he had his work cut out for him. Cuzzocrea also took over the store that Cirillo started and subsequently passed it on to his son Joe Cuzzocrea, who still owns it and is now an assistant coach for JV.
In 1972, Coach Cuzzocrea took the Varsity team to the City Championships. This game is often considered to be one of the most controversial in PSAL history. The game had been tied at the end of regulation. Overtime was played according to NFL rules – sudden death. Tech had the ball and hoped to end the game on this drive. During a pass play, there was a simultaneous catch – two sets of hands, one from each team, had control of the ball. According to NFL rules, in this situation, the offense is granted the ball. However the ball was granted to Far Rockaway, this ruling led them to their win. When he retired, he was given an honorary diploma.
During the 1984 season, Tech had the pleasure of having alumnus Jim DiBenedetto returning to the coaching staff as an assistant. He was on the football team that had both Adam Cirillo and Joe Cuzzocrea as Head Coaches. DiBenedetto was previously the Head Coach at NYIT. In 1987, when Cuzzocrea retired, DiBenedetto became the new Head Coach. Like his predecessors, he continued Tech's winning tradition. The 1989 team were the Brooklyn Champions. They went to the semi-finals against Susan Wagner HS where Tech lost 30-18. Herve Damas, a linebacker from that team, went on to play for Hofstra University and the Buffalo Bills.
In 1995, the team won the Brooklyn Championship. In this game, they had to play at Canarsie who had not lost at home in over 10 years. Tech was losing in the 4th quarter, but Randall Joseph, with 5 minutes left in the game, ran for a 90-yard Touchdown, allowing Tech to win. He later went on to Colgate and ran 3500 yards for them. Nine players between the two teams in this game had full-football scholarships. Linebacker Roger Knight went on to the University of Wisconsin and later played for the New Orleans Saints.
In 1998, DiBenedetto recalls, "not having a lineman over 200 pounds." This is a feat considering most High School Lineman are around at the very least 200 pounds, but usually 250. In the Quarterfinals at Wagner, who had never in their history lost a home playoff game, Tech won 24-8. They went on to the semi-finals where All-State QB Keron Henry threw a pass into the end zone, but was dropped. Henry would go to UConn and become a Wide Receiver, where he became 9th in school history for receiving yards in a season, and then went on to the NFL.
In 2001, Tech and DiBenedetto was the first team to use Tech's own home field. For the previous years, Tech never had a home field – nor a practice field. This definitely shows how innovative and dedicated Tech players were.
DiBenedetto recalls one of his favorite teams, the class of 2003, "They were not the biggest or the fastest, but they were hardworking and talented." This class was a perfect example of Tech tradition. "They lose a game, and next week try twice as hard," this describes not only the 2003 team, but also all Tech Football teams, DiBenedetto says. The 2003 team unexpectedly beat the State Champions on Opening Day. They also won the Brooklyn Division, but were upset in the quarterfinals. Brian Tracy, the team captain, went on to Rutgers. Although on the team, Tracy was slower and shorter then the rest of the team, but he was never cut due to the fact that he was a leader and an inspiration to the other players. In his last senior game, Tracy got to play the entire second half. His first game in college, which was a dream come true.
DiBenedetto retired in 2008, leaving behind a legacy like the coaches did before him. In his 21 years as a coach, all of his players went to college. He then had the opportunity to be on a committee to choose the next coach, who would have the opportunity to hopefully leave a lasting legacy on players like his predecessors. Kyle McKenna, a native of Long Island football player and graduate of Boston University and assistant coach at Grand Street Campus, was the committee's selection to become the next Tech Head Coach. Also on this committee was Pat Cuzzocrea – the son of Adam Cirillo, and wife of Coach Cuzzocrea. She was impressed that McKenna did his homework, researching the traditions and legacy of Tech Football. McKenna led the team to an 11-7 record, and three playoff games over two seasons, with DiBenedetto as the school's Athletic Director while continuing his role as Choral Director.
In one of the most exciting games in Brooklyn Tech history, Tech faced Jefferson High School for the first game of the 2010 playoffs. The players and coaches were excited, because they were looking to seek revenge. They had lost to Jefferson in their Annual Homecoming Adam J. Cirillo Classic game over the earlier regular season loss, a heart-breaking 40-38. Tech was leading up until late in the 4th quarter when Jefferson scored a touchdown to tie it up; if they completed the 2-point conversion, Tech would lose. Tech did not allow Jefferson to complete the 2-point conversion, and the game went into NCAA-rules overtime, where both teams are given an opportunity to score.
In the first overtime, both teams had scored. In the 2nd overtime, Jefferson scored first, but again did not complete the 2-point conversion. When Tech got the ball, they were quickly left with the daunting 4th down with a distant 18 yards to go. Kevi Shyti threw a 16-yard pass to Babatunde Adeyemi. 16 yards would not be enough. Adeyemi, while being tackled, persevered in order to get those 2 needed yards. James Gales scored the touchdown later in the series. If Tech got the 2-point conversion, the game would be over. They did, and they were able to avenge the heartbreaking loss, in one of Brooklyn Tech's most memorable games. Alumni player and coach, Joe Pangia says that this was what he likes to call a "‘Generational Game' because they only happen once-in-a-generation."
McKenna not only continued Tech tradition in the winning-style, but also continued Tech traditions like sending players to college, wearing shoelaces the color of the opponents and the pre-game meditation. But he also had some innovations like the position of Sports Information Director – hoping to change some of the outside perceptions – such as Tech being just an academic school - in the public eye.
Coach McKenna passed the torch to Coach Sam Adewumi, himself a Brooklyn Tech Engineer Alumna, who then passed it onto Coach Brian Pugh. Coaches Adewumi and Pugh coached the Engineers during the Covid era under very trying conditions. When the Engineers came through the other side, Tech and New York City Football as a whole had taken serious blows. 2022 will be knowns as the year when we started the comeback and we look forward to you new players and seeing everyone cheers on the Engineers as Football returns for it’s first full season in 2 years. ROLL TECH!