The Irish haven’t missed a beat since losing Dan Reardon
When Dom Cutrone was a football player at Ursuline High, the Irish went 23-23.
His senior year, 2005, they were 3-7.
“And we went through three coaches in four years,” Cutrone said. “We’ve seen highs and we’ve seen lows. I learned how to bond and stick together with my teammates.”
Now as an assistant at Ursuline, Cutrone is preaching the lessons he learned to a new generation.
“I’m hoping they too can give back years down the road once they move on with their lives,” he said.
But the transitions weren’t done for Cutrone.
When former Irish head coach Dan Reardon, who compiled a 72-29 record in eight seasons, moved to Colorado, another coaching change was necessary.
“But I don’t think there was much doubt,” Cutrone said. “Coach [Larry] Kempe was the right man for the job.”
Kempe, who has also been with the program for nine seasons, originally helped bring Cutrone and other young Ursuline grads, Andrew Frasco, John DeSantis, Ryan Kelly and Mike Bartos, to the staff.
“Having him come back and having a whole group of us come back really allowed us to work harder in the offseason,” Cutrone said.
“It wasn’t a rebuilding year for us. It was a year where we were expected to play a tough schedule, win some games and hopefully be in a position to win a state title.”
This time, last year, the Irish were sitting at home after an uncharacteristic losing season. Kempe had the perfect recipe to ensure the Irish’s fifth playoff appearance in six years.
“You can only do so much as a head coach,” he said. “It takes a solid coaching staff and I have an outstanding coaching staff. Next you need senior leadership, which we have gotten from our  seniors this year. They’ve done a great job as maturing as people and as players.
“We got the numbers up to 60 which is about 20 more than what we had last year.”
Shawn Cole is one of 10 seniors for Ursuline (8-4).
“There actually wasn’t much of a transition because the coaching staff basically stayed the same as it has been,” Cole said. “That’s been nice. It’s the same mentality. Same discipline. And the same in-your-face style of football.”
Cole has caught four touchdown passes in 2012 with one in the postseason.
“The offense has changed a little bit over the year,” he said. “We start with the pass earlier then hit them with the run. Myself, Sean Allen, Tannor Berry, Ben Phillips, Mark Hughes and Shannon Hightower have caught passes from Chris Durkin, so we’ve been spreading it out more.”
Ursuline faces Kirtland Saturday at 7 p.m. in Aurora for the Division V, Region 17 title.
“We can’t take anybody lightly,” Cutrone said. “Any given Saturday somebody can knock us off and it just so happens that in line this Saturday is a defending state champion.
“The kids really trust in what we’re doing and we trust in them.”