by Jason Cohen
Roxbury High School Football Coach Cosmo Lorusso grew up with a passion for the gridiron and now is on the cusp of breaking the school record for wins.
On Oct. 21, he tied Coach Jim Fiorello’s 100 wins when the team beat Mt. Olive 35-0. He has a chance to surpass him on Nov.14, when Roxbury hosts Northern Highlands in its last game of the season.
“It’s really not something that motivates me or drives me,” he said referring to getting 101 wins. “It’s very humbling to be mentioned in the same breath as him (Fiorello).”
Lorusso, 52, a native of Union Township, has been coaching for 30 years. He fell in love with the game at a young age and often played with his older brothers Brian and Dom. Dom was a state championship quarterback at Union.
He played football one year at Montclair State, but eventually decided to coach. His former coach at Union High School, Lou Retino had a major impact on him, but it was Jim Benedict, the quarterbacks coach at Union, who gave him his first job as an assistant coach at Summit High School from 1987 to 1988.
“My coaches were such an influence in my life that I knew I wanted to do something like that in my life,” he remarked.
Lorusso, who has been at Roxbury since 2002, served as an assistant at Lenape Valley High School from 1989 to 1993, head coach at Sussex County Technical School from 1994 to 1995, and head coach at Pequannock High School from 1996 to 2001.
Teaching English at Roxbury and coaching the students has changed his life, he explained. He has been able to see the kids grow in and out of the classroom.
According to Lorusso, 100 wins is great, but his goal is to help his players become better people. He noted, he did lead the team to two state championships in 2009 and 2012.
“If I’m going to take any credit as a coach for wins, I hope that I inspire young men to play to the best of their ability,” the coach said. “You’re not going to win championships every year. Your program better have something more than championships.
“The ability to have an impact on young people’s lives, you can’t put a price on that,” he added.
Even with all of the touchdowns and sacks, some highlights for him include getting invitations to weddings and graduations of former players.
Looking back at his time in Roxbury, he noted that while it may be a small community, it is filled with spirit and dedicated parents. Every Friday night the stadium is packed with 2,000 fans, he said.
“I think my career was building to get to a place like Roxbury,” he said. “It’s still a town that enjoys its football. To me, there’s no better place to coach in.”