Tim Durkin’s vision of Holy Cross Prep football involves both the future and the past.
The future is the football program’s place in the independent school’s efforts to remain as a viable alternative for parents and students looking for a private, faith-based educational environment in Burlington County.
The future also is fundamental to Durkin’s approach as the Lancers’ new coach, with a heavy emphasis on sports science and other innovative methods of developing players.
“Our players are going to do yoga,” Durkin said. “They’re going to do plyometrics. We’re going to be heavy involved with sports science. Nutrition is a big part of this as well.
“We’re trying to really get involved with developing our athletes in every way we possible can.”
But the past is never far from the scene at Holy Cross, either.
Durkin said his goal is to bring the Lancers’ program back to the level of prominence experienced under former coaches such as Tim McAneney, Charlie Pirello and Tom Maderia, whose 2000 team won the Non-Public 4 state title with an unforgettable 41-40 win over Don Bosco Prep.
“I went to Cinnaminson,” Durkin said. “I remember taking that bus trip on [Rt.] 130 to Holy Cross just knowing we weren’t going to win that game.
“That’s what I want this program to get back to. They had decades of dominance. That’s the goal here.”
Durkin is a 2004 Cinnaminson graduate who played college football at Fairleigh Dickinson. He’s a former assistant coach with the University of Pennsylvania sprint football team and spent the last five seasons at Holy Cross as an assistant under Frank Holmes.
Holmes resigned after last season, his 10th in charge of the Lancers’ program. Holy Cross was 6-5 last season, including a 2-2 mark while Durkin served as interim coach for four games in Holmes’ absence.
Durkin is the director of institutional advancement at Holy Cross Prep. He’s deeply involved in fund-raising and alumni relations, two areas that connect with his new position as the head football coach as the institution continues its transition from a traditional, Catholic diocese-overseen school to an independent school.
Durkin knows success in sports is part of Holy Cross Prep’s blueprint for a sustainable future.
“It’s really exciting,” Durkin said.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for long-time South Jersey coach Dennis Scuderi Sr., who was named Paul VI’s new head coach last week.
Scuderi replaces Glenn Hutton, who resigned after two-plus seasons at his alma mater. Hutton is likely to pursue coaching opportunities at the college level.
Scuderi has been the head coach during two stints at Camden Catholic as well as St. Augustine Prep.
“He knows the Catholic way,” Paul VI athletic director Tony Mitchell said.
Paul VI was 1-9 last season, winning its finale on Thanksgiving Eve against 0-10 Camden Catholic.
Scuderi, who spent the last couple of seasons as an assistant at Deptford under his son, Steve Scuderi, knows he has a rebuilding task in front of him.
“I know we can win here,” Scuderi said. “But we’ve got a lot of work to do. We have to get out, talk with people, try to sell this school. I think it’s an easy sell. It’s a great school.
“I also think there are kids in the school who haven’t played football that can help us. I’ve got to get them to come out.”
Paul VI had some strong years in the recent past under former coach John Doherty, now the head coach at Eastern.
Scuderi’s ties to the program go back much farther than that. He was an assistant for the Eagles for five seasons in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving on the staff of the program’s legendary undefeated 1981 team led by the late great Tim Curry.
“We didn’t allow a point in our first seven games,” Scuderi recalled.