Hudson Valley Sports Report


Current Assistant For The Spartans Was Also A Former Standout Player

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

If this sounds like a case of déjà vu – former standout high school football player puts in his time as an assistant coach and eventually takes over the program – well, it is.

Treading some of the same ground that his former coach did, former Spackenkill star Josh Riley has been elevated from assistant coach to head coach of the Spartans, the school announced today.

Riley will take over for his old coach, Clinton DeSouza, who stepped down earlier this year after 11 seasons to become an assistant principal in the Yorktown school district, opening more time to devote to family.

Riley graduated from Spackenkill in 2013, leading the Spartans to a league championship in 2011 while emerging as a star on both sides of the ball. He was a four-year player at SUNY Cortland, graduating in 2017 before returning to Spackenkill to coach.

“I’m super-pumped for this opportunity,” Riley told HVSR. “I can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

Riley was heavily influenced by his relationship with DeSouza, himself a former Spackenkill player who came home to coach.

“I’ve been lucky to have great mentors throughout my coaching career thus far. I have the utmost respect for Clinton, as well as everything he has done for me and this entire program,” Riley said. “He has been a part of my life since 2009 when I entered Spackenkill as a freshman, and he has played a huge role on who I was as a player and who I currently am as a coach and person. Our relationship is one that inspired me to want to become a coach myself.”


Asked about his former player taking over for him, DeSouza said simply to HVSR, “He’s the man.”

“Inspiring, motivating, organized, and high-spirited,” DeSouza said of Riley. “His passion and enthusiasm is contagious and players want to run through a brick wall for him. He took the defense over for the past two years and made it his own. Phenomenally focused, works day and night, and wants to win badly. He’s going to take the program to new heights.”

For now, Riley said he wants to continue the tradition of excellence and is working with athletic director Marco Lanzoni to bring participation back up to the point where the Spartans could return to playing traditional 11-man football. The program went to eight-man football in 2019.

“We are very excited to have Josh take over the program and continue to build on the success of Coach DeSouza,” Lanzoni said in an email to HVSR. “ Josh is a natural leader.  He demonstrated this early in his playing career here at Spackenkill and now as an assistant coach.  The kids respond very well to him and his energy is contagious.  Our goal is to continue to promote football and increase participation.  The newly formed Spartan youth flag football league is one way this will occur.”

Riley said he will pick up where DeSouza left off.

“I’m a strong believer in building this program the right way. Immediate success looks good but is often not sustainable. Building a program of strong-willed leaders and powerful young men will not only help them on the field, but life after football as well,” he said. “I won’t know the true success of myself as a coach until 20 years down the line when I can look back and see the men my players became.”

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