Mike deMarteleire was a star quarterback at Lansdale Catholic High School, class of 1998. He passed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior playing for his grandfather, Jim Algeo.
DeMarteleire was two years younger than his uncle, John Algeo, a class of 1996 graduate who also passed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior playing for his father.
The third straight Lansdale Catholic quarterback from that era to throw for more than 2,000 yards playing in an ahead-of-its-time offense for an ahead-of-his-time coach was a guy named Joe Judge, class of 2000.
On Thursday, Judge was introduced as the new head coach of the New York Giants.
“It’s so surreal,” deMarteleire said. "Growing up, everybody dreams of being an NFL player, being an NFL coach. Now we have an L.C. guy who is one of just 32 coaches in the world.
“It doesn’t seem real.”
The Lansdale Catholic community has been bursting with pride, athletic director Mark Princehorn said, over Judge’s elevation from relatively unknown assistant coach for the New England Patriots to head coach of the Eagles’ NFC East rivals and one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.
“When you listen to Joe talk, he always gives credit to Lansdale Catholic and Coach Algeo,” Princehorn said. “That means so much to this school, this community."
Princehorn became Lansdale Catholic’s athletic director in July. He said one of the first things he noticed about the school’s athletic program was the rich tradition of the football team, whose past and present players refer to themselves as a “Rare Breed.”
That harks back to the traditions built by Jim Algeo, who was the Crusaders’ coach for 44 years until his retirement after the 2011 season.
“Rare Breed — that’s one of the first things I learned,” Princehorn said. “It goes back to Coach Algeo and his legacy, and now his legacy is that much greater.”
Judge started his high school career at St. Joseph’s Prep, playing for the Hawks’ freshman team in the fall of 1996. He transferred to Lansdale Catholic, backed up deMarteleire as a sophomore, and was a star quarterback for the Crusaders as a junior and senior.
“Big, strong kid — had a stronger arm as a sophomore than I had as a senior,” deMarteleire said of Judge, who went on to play for Mississippi State. "He was just a really confident kid. Not cocky. Just confident.
“I remember before his senior year he was quoted as saying, ‘I fully expect to throw for 3,000 yards.’ Not sure how much my grandfather liked that, but that was Joe. He was just so confident in himself, but not in a cocky way.”
Judge followed in the footsteps of deMarteleire as well as John Algeo, playing in a pass-oriented offense at a time when most high school teams still were geared toward a run-first approach.
They all played for Jim Algeo, an 83-year-old who is battling a serious illness. Jim Algeo’s teams won 294 games and 11 titles in various conferences as well as the PIAA Class 2A state title in 2004.
“The picture of the 2004 state-title team is the first thing I see in my office every day,” Princehorn said.
Judge rose through the coaching ranks, from graduate assistant at Mississippi State to Birmingham-Southern College to Alabama to the Patriots, who hired him as a special-teams assistant in 2012. New England coach Bill Belichick made Judge the team’s special-teams coordinator in 2015.
Lansdale Catholic coach Dom D’Addona said the team’s current players were thrilled to see one of the program’s graduates become an NFL head coach.
"It’s like they are seeing someone represent them at the highest level,” D’Addona said.
Princehorn said the school still has faculty members who were there in the late 1990s, when Judge walked the halls. English teacher Eileen Hildenbrand had Judge in class.
“She says he never missed an assignment,” Princehorn said. "That makes sense, right? It’s all about making sure you cover every detail.”
DeMarteleire said he sent Judge a congratulatory text.
“He texted back, ‘Thanks dude,’ ” deMarteleire said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re the head coach of the New York Giants.’ ”
DeMarteleire, like most Lansdale Catholic football folks, has been an Eagles fan. But his loyalty has changed after watching his former teammate take control of the franchise from North Jersey.