Nov. 14, 1993
If it had been a Hollywood movie script, Gino Alberici would be spending this week preparing his Port Byron Central School Panthers for the Section III football playoffs in Syracuse's Carrier Dome.
Alas, in the real world, Gino finishes a storied 32-year high school football coaching career without a Hollywood ending and without his joyous players carrying him off the field in victory after winning the sectional championship.
In fact, Alberici was spared the ultimate embarrassment of having his Panthers upset in the seasonal finale by the winless APW Rebels.
Down 6-0, Port Byron rallied for a 7-6 win last Saturday on a quagmire at APW.
It was hardly an embarrassing season. The Panthers finished 7-1. It was their lone 30-0 loss to Skaneateles that spoiled their coach's last hurrah.
"Sure, I would have enjoyed going to the Dome one more time," said Alberici, "but I wouldn't do anything any different this season.
"I am real proud of my kids. I couldn't ask for anything different. Heck, a lot of coaches would have loved to finish 7-1."
The final game was ironic because a week earlier, Alberici was honored by politicians, educators, former players and friends. But the veteran coach seemed most touched by the appearance of his Auburn High School coach, Bob Dean.
What were his feelings after the APW contest?
"They were bittersweet," he said. "Naturally, there was some sadness. Still, I can look back with pride and happiness on 32 great seasons."