The South Brunswick football team defeated Manalapan 18-14 for the NJSIAA Central Group V title on Dec. 2, 2017.
iPhone video by Greg Tufaro
Former South Brunswick High School two-sport star John Viotto has returned home as the new head football coach at his alma mater.
“He was born and raised here, went through all our programs from Pop Warner through middle school and the high school,” South Brunswick Athletics Director Elaine McGrath said of Viotto, who graduated from the high school in 2007.
“He’s true black and gold. We think his knowledge and his enthusiasm to be here at South Brunswick is great. We think he’s going to do a great job for us.”
Viotto succeeds Joe Goerge, who ranked among the 15 winningest active head coaches at the time of his resignation at the end of last season.
“It’s a dream come true,” Viotto said of taking over a program that has been a perennial power over the last decade. “When it comes to coaching positions, South Brunswick has been a great program under Coach George.”
During the last eight years, South Brunswick compiled a 73-15 record (.830 winning percentage) while reaching at least the sectional semifinals seven times and going 3-1 in title games.
South Brunswick qualified in 2018 for the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season but endured a 14-7 first-round loss to Edison, which had its most successful campaign in nearly two decades. The Vikings lost their best player, star running back and safety Thomas Joe-Kamara, to a first-quarter injury in that postseason defeat.
“I believe I’m 100 percent ready to take on this position and come back home,” Viotto said. “The reception from the town, the alumni and the community has been great.”
Viotto will implement a new offense, shifting away from the triple option predecessors Goerge and Rick Mantz ran at South Brunswick.
“We want to be a spread zone style offense,” Viotto said. “I think we have a lot of great athletes. The goal is to get them the ball in space. The speed and physicality of the team is definitely best for that spread zone style offense.”
The Vikings will operate out of multiple formations and utilize a tight end out of some sets.
The South Brunswick Board of Education on Monday approved Viotto, who said he will begin teaching history at South Brunswick High School in the fall.
Viotto currently teaches the subject at North Brunswick High School, where he served as an assistant coach the last two years under Mike Cipot, who resurrected that program and just led the Raiders to their finest season in school history.
“He was part of two seasons with a winning program, so he knows what it takes to win and how to get the kids to believe in what he’s doing,” Cipot said. “His organization and rapport with the kids are great. He loves to study the game, so that’s going to help him prepare. He was a positive guy in the coaches’ room and on the field with the kids. We are absolutely losing a good coach.”
Viotto said he had “a great meeting” with his new players yesterday and that the Vikings went after it in the weight room for the first time under his tutelage today.
“They are a great group of kids,” Viotto said. “I can already tell just from my first few days of interaction they are going to be ready.
“The biggest thing I talked about was our mission statement and vision plan. Our mission statement is to build great student-athletes who are champions on and off the football field. That’s a big focus of mine. Our vision statement (is) working together as a family using strength and confidence to build the players up.”
Viotto, who played football and also threw the shot put at South Brunswick, attended the University of Delaware on a track and field scholarship.
He’s been an assistant football coach for five years and coached track and field for six years.
“The biggest thing for me moving forward with the program is I want to focus on being able to compete every single day,” Viotto said. “That’s one of my biggest cornerstones. We had our first weight room session today. The kids got after it and started being competitive right away. That mentality I think is going to carry them a long way.”