Tonawanda News — Steve Stich played in the 2009 and 2010 T-NT games, where his Warriors lost by a combined 103-7. He said the losses were tough to deal with, but he noticed right away when coach Rob Gross came in 2010 that things were changing.
Stich said Gross brought maturity to the program.
“He demands commitment from everybody,” Stich said. “That feeds through down to even the modified level. He’s here all the time, year round, doing whatever he can to get the program better, and getting the guys to believe in protecting the tradition the best they can.”
Coaching seems to be the recipe for success on both sides of the river. Miranto said that back when he played and throughout the 13-year streak, the Jacks have been able to win consistently because of good coaches.
“I think it started with the coaching staff at NT — guys like Eric Jantzi and Rick Tomm,” Miranto said. “They laid the foundation for the program to be successful, not only for the T-NT game but in every game they played. The size of the schools plays into it as far as NT being a little more successful in recent years, but that can be a negative too because every year for Tonawanda they’re trying to knock off the king of the mountain.
“It’s David-versus-Goliath every year for them and sometimes they can catch lightning in a bottle and knock you off. It’s really been a testament to the coaches and players that have come through in the last 12 years to not let that happen.”
Both sides agree that T-NT week, win or lose, is the most memorable moment of their high school careers. When the game starts records are thrown out and it’s two football teams with a lot of pride fighting to be a part of the rivalry’s storied history.