Castiglia takes over Sentinels

Castiglia takes over Sentinels

Former Woonsocket head coach embraces ‘challenge’ of turning around Smithfield football team’s fortunes

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield High football team will return to the Division IV ranks this season, and the Sentinels will do so with a new head coach that has nearly two decades of experience in the RIIL.

Glenn Castiglia, whose coaching resume includes the 2015 and ’16 seasons as Woonsocket’s head coach and the last three years as an assistant at Cranston East, has been handed the keys to the program, and he’s “very eager to start the challenge” of turning the Sentinels’ fortunes around.

“Smithfield has always had a strong athletic program,” reported Castiglia, who is also the head wrestling coach at Cranston East and teaches history at Woonsocket High. “And they have a football program that has won in the past, so you know things are in place there to get it done.”

The last time the Sentinels produced a winning season was 2016, a year after they went undefeated and won the Division IV championship. With the D-IV taking a two-year hiatus that began in 2016, Smithfield made the most out of that season in D-III by posting a 6-1 mark and reaching the semifinals.

But the program fell on rough times over the next three seasons, compiling a 2-19 mark in D-III play and winning a total of five games. Last year’s squad went winless in league play and was shut out in seven of its 11 games.

When the season ended, “(Smithfield) was one of the first (head coaching spots) that I heard might open up,” Castiglia recalled. “I knew they hadn’t been successful in the last three years, and I like the idea of trying to build something and kind of bring something back. I like that challenge, so I thought that might be interesting.”

“And once I had my initial meeting with (principal) Dan Kelley and (athletic director) Chris Coderre, I felt that they were very supportive and (Smithfield) would be a good spot for me,” he added. “This is a place that I would want to be.”

In a press release by the school, Kelley officially welcomed Castiglia to “Sentinel Nation” and noted that his new head coach “fully believes that academics, character, discipline, and sportsmanship are essential components of a high school football program.”

“I believe Glenn is absolutely the right person to move our football program forward,” Coderre said. “His success building programs, whether it’d be football or wrestling, is well documented and really sets him apart. His vision to build a well-rounded successful program matches the expectations of the school, and I look forward to working with him in the years to come.”

Castiglia is a native of Elmwood Park, N.J., and 1995 graduate of D-III Lycoming College in Williamsport, Penn., where he was a defensive back on the Warriors’ football team.

His coaching resume also includes a decade-long run as Woonsocket’s head wrestling coach, five more years as an assistant football coach at WHS, and the wrestling job he’s had at Cranston East since 2012.

He’s also served stints at Glen Rock High School in Glen Rock, N.J., D-III New Jersey City University, and nearby Bryant University, where he helped the then D-II Bulldogs create their program in his four years there (1998-2000, 2002).

Since Castiglia has been unable to meet anyone in person or visit the high school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s talked to a few of his soon-to-be seniors on Google Meet. He’s looking forward to his first online team meeting, and he’s been trying to gather some film of last season’s team so he can start evaluating the players who should return to this fall’s squad.

Speaking of this fall, “I’m praying, like everyone else, that we have somewhat of either a full season or as close to a normal season as possible,” admitted Castiglia. “And if that’s the case, I want to hit the ground running and I want to be ready to play.”

As for his goals this year. “I want to be competitive,” he said. “I’m not going to say anything about wins and losses, but if we’re competitive on a weekly basis, I’m going to be pretty excited. I think that’s going to be the big step forward.”

Joining the Sentinels in the drop from D-III to the new-look D-IV are North Providence and Narragansett. Ponaganset and Toll Gate, which both went 5-2 and reached the D-IV semis last season, are back, as are Hope, Davies, Scituate, and the EWG/Prout School co-op team.

Last year’s D-IV champion, the North Smithfield/Mount Saint Charles co-op team, and D-IV finalist Tiverton are in D-III and joined by returning Central Falls and Chariho; Johnston, Classical, and Coventry, which played in D-II last fall; and the Juanita Sanchez/Providence Country Day/Wheeler co-op team, which played an independent schedule.

As for the rest of the RIIL’s divisions, the offseason’s realignment saw defending state champion Bishop Hendricken, La Salle Academy, Cranston West, and Portsmouth joining forces to form a Division I-Power circuit, and 10 teams, including two-time D-II champion Woonsocket, grouped in a regular D-I.

The Novans will join Cranston East, Central, East Providence, and South Kingstown in the Division IA, and Burrillville, Shea, Cumberland, Cranston West, and East Greenwich will play in Division IB. Burrillville and East Greenwich also played in D-II last season.

In Division II-A, the six occupants are Moses Brown, Mount Pleasant, Tolman, Middletown, Mount Hope, and West Warwick, and Division II-B contains Lincoln, St. Raphael, Barrington, Rogers, Westerly, and last year’s D-III champion, Pilgrim. Tolman is also up from D-III, while SRA, Barrington, and Moses Brown are down from D-I.