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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, April 18, 2014

SCSU's Godek feels pressure of Owls’ coaching lineage


NEW HAVEN >> Tom Godek has to pinch himself when he thinks about the prestigious list of coaches he has joined.
Recently named the sixth head football coach in Southern Connecticut State’s esteemed history, the former offensive coordinator is charged with resurrecting one of the region’s top programs.
“It’s hard to believe the names that have come before me,” Godek said. “The five that have sat in (the head coach’s) chair...I can’t even comprehend that my name is on the list now.”
Godek is certainly following in some big footsteps. Jess Dow founded the program in 1948 and won 108 games. Harry Shay took over for Dow and was followed by George DeLeone and Kevin Gilbride, both of whom coached in the NFL. Rich Cavanaugh held the position for the past 29 seasons, winning 170 games before retiring in November.
“There’s certainly a lot of pressure to live up to the expectation of those coaches that have come before me,” said Godek, who was an assistant under Cavanaugh for the past 13 years.
Godek is now charged with turning around the Owls’ fortunes. SCSU has posted back-to-back 3-8 campaigns after a long stint as a Division II playoff contender.
The 1988 Southern graduate describes the four months it took before being appointed head coach after Cavanaugh left as agonizing and stressful.
“It was both,” he said. “Being an alum, we wanted to continue to recruit and not let down the program, whether it was myself or another alum or an outsider who got the job. We’re still doing it right now.
“It was difficult. We made it totally clear that we wanted the recruits to come out and see Southern Connecticut State University, its academic offerings, its social life, and let them know that they could be talking to another person later. We were overjoyed when I got the word, even though we were a little behind.”
Godek brings 20 years of coaching experience to the position following a decorated playing career that culminated in a free agent signing with the New York Jets. He said he got several key recruits to sign on before his appointment was made official. He then called the fringe recruits when he was named coach and was ecstatic when about eight of them committed right away.
The popular Godek was thankful for the overwhelming support he got from so many players and their families in the interview process.
Tom Godek takes over at SCSU

“Obviously coach Cavanaugh did a great job, but there will be some changes,” he said. “There’s certainly some carryover. (Cavanaugh’s) a huge void to fill, but we’ve looked at a couple of different things from an offensive and defensive schematic. The players have come up to me and said, ‘It’s the same but, boy, it’s a lot different.’”
Godek hasn’t solidified his coaching staff yet and his roster is still a work in progress. The Owls lost the final five games of last season, which coincided with the season-ending injury of quarterback Jacob Jablonski. But they have two big pieces on both sides of the ball to build with.
Linebacker Brian Wilcox is one of the top defensive players in the region and, offensively, John Moscatel is one of the most versatile players in the conference.
“We’ll try to hide him in a couple of spots,” Godek said of Moscatel, who gained over 2,000 all-purpose yards last season, “He’ll be in the backfield, in the slot. He can do everything. Wilcox and Moscatel are kind of the faces of the program.”
Godek didn’t know how to characterize his team, only to say they’ll be very competitive.
“I don’t know if we’re rebuilding,” said the native of Ludlowe, Mass. “We’re putting the next level on. We’ve got a good foundation, regardless of the wins and losses from last year, and we’re going to try to take it to the next level.”
Godek will unveil his first team on April 25 in the Owls’ annual William “Sully” Sullivan spring game at Jess Dow field at 7 p.m.

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