HS boys’ basketball: St. Peter’s coach Charlie Driscoll announces retirement; JV coach Ryan Woods will take over

Charlie Driscoll, St. Peter’s all-time winningest varsity basketball coach who guided the Eagles to 10 SIHSL Tournament championships, has decided to retire and will be replaced by JV coach and former SP star Ryan Woods, the Advance/SILive.com has learned.

The announcements were made by St. Peter’s principal Michael Cosentino.

Driscoll spent 33 years overall with the Eagles, including a record-tying 21 (with Jack McGinley) with the varsity and 12 more with the JV team. The West Brighton resident was only the fourth varsity basketball coach for the Eagles since 1956 as he followed in the footsteps of the highly successful McGinley, Howie Ruppert and Rich LaGrotta.

Driscoll said it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but ultimately, it was the right one.

“This time’s been coming, I’ve been thinking about it for a while,’ admitted the 66-year-old Driscoll, who is third on Staten Island’s all-time wins list. “It was difficult (to make this type of decision), but you just know when it’s time and after 33 years, I just felt that the time has come.

“I loved every minute of it,” he added. “It was very intimidating when I first got the (varsity) job because I just wanted to maintain the success the three before I had and I knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“But thanks to great assistant coaches and great players that came through during my time, everything worked out.”

Cosentino, who was a student at St. Peter’s when Driscoll got the varsity job prior to the 2001-02 season, and SP Director of Basketball Operations John Walsh are both extremely appreciative for everything Driscoll did for the storied program.

“Charlie is one of only four varsity basketball coaches our school has had since the mid-1950s and he gave the program unbelievable stability and continued the tradition of success with St. Peter’s basketball,” said Cosentino. “He did a phenomenal job. I loved watching his teams play. They always played with a level of physicality and tenacity that people associate with St. Peter’s basketball and although it’s a blow losing him, I couldn’t be happier and prouder of him.

“Charlie demanded a lot from his players, he always expected maximum effort at all times and it obviously showed in winning tradition that he created for so many years here‚” said Walsh, a former Advance All-Star guard who coached the Eagles’ JV for 10 years. “He was big on preparation and was demanding throughout the season and his teams always got better and were playing their best basketball at the end of the season. It was that process and grind (he instilled) and demanding that same kind of effort and commitment that resulted in all those championships.

Drsicoll’s resume speaks for itself.

He finished his varsity career with a 344-198 overall record (.616 winning percentage) that often included a number of games against some of the best competition the CHSAA AA division had to offer. Not only did his teams win 10 SIHSL Tournament titles, but they played in 14 title games overall in 19 season (because of Covid, his last two seasons didn’t include SIHSL play).

St. Peter’s varsity basketball coach Charlie Driscoll (blue pullover), who guided the Eagles to a pair of CHSAA AA Intersectional semifinal appearances, has. a word with former star guard Chris Clancy during the 2018-19 season. (Staten Island Advance/Derek Alves)

Driscoll’s 2002 and 2014 teams became St. Peter’s third and fourth squads to advance to the CHSAA AA Intersectional semifinals. His 2002 team advanced to the semis after upsetting nationally ranked Archbishop Molloy and his 2014 team upended Cardinal Hayes when the Bronx school was not only still undefeated in mid-February, but also the state’s No. 1-ranked team.

Driscoll guided the Eagles to 14 CHSAA Staten Island division titles. He also coached eight Jaques Award winners — including Woods — and 20 Advance All Stars between 2002-17.

“I am very proud of all the accomplishments,” he said. “There’s so many things and players I’m very proud of, but my first season, during 2001-02, will always be special to me.

“I inherited a good team, but we finished undefeated on Staten Island and made it all the way to the semifinals after beating (Archbishop) Molloy — the nation’s No. 15-ranked team. It was my first year and it was such a magical ride I’ll never forget.”

St. Peter’s president John Fodera, who promoted Driscoll to varsity coach just over two decades ago, couldn’t say enough about the long-time coach.

“I feel very proud that I had the foresight as principal of St. Peter’s to hire Charlie Driscoll as varsity basketball coach over 20 years ago,” said Fodera. “He has been a great leader within our sports program and has stamped a championship mark for our school as a basketball powerhouse not only on Staten Island, but throughout the entire city.

“I acknowledge Charlie as a good friend and as an individual who has greatly contributed to the tradition and reputation of St. Peter’s Boys High School. He has been an invaluable part of our sports program and someone whose accomplishments will be difficult to surpass.

Ryan Woods ready for prestigious position

New Eagles mentor

Ryan Woods, who was named St. Peter’s new varsity basketball coach, boasted a 54-20 record in three seasons as JV mentor. (Staten Island Advance/Derek Alves)

Woods, who guided the Eagles to back-to-back SIHSL Tournament championships and capped his career by winning the Jaques following the 2007-08 season, becomes St. Peter’s 18th varsity basketball coach, including only the fifth since 1956.

The 32-year-old Woods has had some year so far, first guiding the Eagles’ JV to Staten Island’s first CHSAA Intersectional championship-game appearance in March and, of course, now landing the varsity job at his alma mater.

“I’m super excited. It feels great because this has been a dream of mine for some time and to be put in a position that was previously held by Jack McGinley, Howie Ruppert, Rich LaGrotta and Charlie Driscoll is just an honor and a blessing,” said Woods, a West Brighton resident who shares a 10-month old daughter (Scarlett) with his fiancee, Caitlin Althoff. “Knowing what they did for our program, it gives me added inspiration to be successful as well in this special position.”

Both Cosentino and Walsh believe Woods is the right man for the job for a number of reasons.

“Ryan is an alum and that’s something that’s extremely important because he understands St. Peter’s basketball’s history because he’s lived it,” said Cosentino. “I’ve seen Ryan’s practices with the JV and the process, the way Ryan and his coaching staff demand the best of the players is interested. He’s very charismatic, he’s prepared and he’s got good relationships with his players — they’re all locked in when he’s coaching.

“It’s all very impressive,” the principal added. “He proved what he could do on the lower (JV) level and we just think now is his time.”

“I like the fact that Ryan played for Charlie and we have this handoff and consistency idea,” added Walsh. “And through the four years he’s been JV coach, I’ve been impressed with the buy-in that he gets from the kids. The five guys on the court, always had buy-in, there was no questioning the process, they ran their sets so well, they were drilled and played together. It was evident on the court and that’s a testament to the way Ryan prepared them.”

Woods actually replaced Walsh as JV coach four years ago and in three seasons, he compiled an impressive 54-20 record that included last season’s impressive run to the CHSAA JV AA Intersectional championship game.

“I’m very proud of him. He wanted to come back and help out after a very successful playing career at St. Peter’s and he’s been extremely successful as a coach,” said Driscoll. “I know he’ll do a great job.”

Woods, a New Jersey Institute of Technology alum who is a currently a 5th grade Special Education teacher at PS 13 in Rosebank, said JV assistants Mike Spisto, Mike Sanborn and Jake DeForest will make the jump with him to varsity. In addition, he’s not ready to announce his replacement on the junior varsity level, but was very pleased to announce that Denis Driscoll will return for a 19th season as freshman coach.

The new varsity coach is especially thankful to his predecessor and former coach.

“Coach Charlie means the world to me. He’s my mentor, a friend and an important figure in my life‚” said Woods. “Explaining how important he is to me is immeasurable and it’s truly an honor to take over for him.

“I like the guys we have coming back and, of course, the players we have coming up and I can’t wait to get started.”

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