Bishop Hendricken football coach Keith Croft was honored with the Providence Gridiron Club’s Division I Coach of the Year award last Wednesday at the organization’s annual banquet.
“A lot of great coaches – and great players – have been honored through the years,” Croft said. “This is a really nice award; it’s especially great to be recognized by your fellow coaches and the Gridiron Club.”
Although the Gridiron was founded back in 1945 when Rhode Island had a professional football team named the Providence Steamroller, the club only began holding its awards night 21 years ago.
Croft – who has led Hendricken to four consecutive state championships – had never won the Coach of the Year honor until this year.
Croft is also the first coach in Bishop Hendricken High football history to land the honor, which dates back to 1993 when former North Kingstown High head coach Keith Kenyon received the first Coach of the Year award.
It was also a fitting honor for Croft, who captained the 1994 football Hawks and graduated from Bishop Hendricken in 1995. He was selected for the honor through a combined effort of the Rhode Island High School Football Coaches Association and Gridiron Club’s Executive Board.
Through all his team’s successes, though, Croft – as he did last Wednesday night – remains humble and heaps words of praise upon his assistant coaches.
“This is a great accomplishment,” Croft said, “but not for me. This isn’t about me; it’s about my entire coaching staff. We’re a close-knit family. My coaches are great role models for the kids; they always work real, real hard.”
Even after accepting the award, Croft was accompanied by several of his assistant coaches – Mike Green, Frank Pantaleo, Jason Hogan, Joe Bucci, Mike Sackett and Brandford Sowah during the Gridiron Club’s post-award photograph session.
“I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of our entire Hendricken family; this is a great place to coach, it’s phenomenal,” Croft said. “We’ve had some great athletes but most important, I went there and you get the mission of the school.”
Croft, who is the assistant principal at Cranston’s Gladstone Street School, began his coaching career at Hendricken in 2007. His 2013 Hawks beat Cranston East for the state championship.