Joe Licata is comfortable wearing the word “South” on his chest.
After all, the former University of Buffalo quarterback earned his stripes as one of the most prolific QB’s in Western New York history while playing for Williamsville South. Now, eight years after his last game for the Billies, Licata is back at his alma mater for a night with a different role: coach.
Licata took over as Athletic Director and head football coach of the Bishop Timon-St. Jude Tigers in 2017, his first experience in either role. After a winless first season at Timon, Licata has the chance to improve on his abilities while serving as an assistant coach for the South team during the 43rd Annual Kensington Lions Club All-Star game.
Wednesday marks the first time that Licata will take part in a game at Williamsville South without representing his old high-school.
“Going back there is always special,” he said. “It’s got a special place in my heart. It’ll be fun to be back on that field.
It’s an experience that Licata says still feels familiar to him despite it being so different this time around.
“I stepped out there (on the new turf) and it still has the same feel the old field used to have,” he said. “The weirdest part will definitely be being on the opposite sideline. I’ve always been on the west side bleachers, but now I’m going to be on the east side. It’s going to be a different feeling.”
The 25-year old coach is one of the youngest varsity head coaches in the region, but that doesn’t mean he’s naive. Licata knows exactly what an opportunity to coach in an event like the Lions Club All-Star Game can do for the future even though he won’t be calling any plays during the game.
“I remember playing against West Seneca East and watching Coach (Jim) Maurino on the sideline,” he said. “But now, getting a chance to really get to know him and guys like Coach Fatta from Cheektowaga, those guys have been so successful for so long.
“Getting the chance of just picking their brain, hearing what they call and certain things and how they communicate it, it’s really been helpful for me as a young coach to learn the game from some of the most successful guys in Western New York football.”
Licata and the South Team take on the North Team Wednesday night at 7pm.
Feature Photo Courtesy of joelicatafootball.com
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