Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda football coach Tony Truilizio thought he knew what he was getting into as he prepared for his first-ever T-NT Classic last season.
But now, looking back, the second-year coach said he had no idea.
“When I looked into the stands after the game started, and I looked and it was surrounded with blue and red on one side and burgundy and white on the other side — that’s when I knew,” he said. “There was no parking, and truthfully my wife had to get an escort in. That’s high school football at its best right there. I wish every game was that packed and surrounded. But it was exciting to be in that game. That’s when it was like, ‘holy cow’ for me.”
This season, as the rivalry shifts back across the canal to George Vetter Stadium, Truilizio knows exactly what to expect and what the rivalry means.
“I’m a little bit more prepared and I know what to expect now,” he said. “I didn’t realize — and I’m not saying that negatively, people say ‘you knew about it’ — but now I know. It’s not a deer in the headlight type of situation. I know what it means to the community.”
Truilizio has been making his presence felt in the community ever since he took the job. He started with his players, the people he had direct contact with, to build a relationship based on trust and respect.
NT lineman Ryan Osborn’s victory over cancer wasn’t lost on Truilziio when he took over, and he’s made sure his players and coaches support each other in everything they do, on and off the field. It’s why there were over 30 member of the NT football team at a recent fashion show at Salvatore’s fundraiser for Camp Good Days and Special Times, which is a not for profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families dealing with cancer.