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Football: From Westhill to Boston College, Cottet was part of high school’s …

, July 03, 2013 10:12 a.m.

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     Lineman Carson Hicks left Syracuse last week to join his new football team at Miami University of Ohio. Westhill High School officials said previously they couldn’t remember another one of their football players signing to play for a Division I program.

      It turns out there was a predecessor.

      In 1971, linebacker Gary Cottet of Westhill signed to play football with Boston College. He played running back as a senior at Westhill, but also played linebacker and offensive guard during his high school career. Twice, Cottet earned All-County honors as the Warriors went 12-1-1 in 1969 and 1970. That was after Westhill went 0-8 in 1968.

      At Boston College, Cottet (pronounced COT-it) played on his school’s final freshman-only team in the fall of 1971. He injured his knee in the final game of his sophomore season and did not play again.

      Cottet was one of several Central New York players during that era to be recruited to Boston College by assistant coach Bill Campbell. Among the local players Cottet said Campbell recruited to Boston College included Mark Burlingame of Marcellus, Dave Bucci of Henninger, Chuck Pascale of Liverpool, Howie Richardson of Auburn and Jim Whidden of Cazenovia. Campbell went on to become head coach at Columbia, then left to become something of a mogul in Silicon Valley. Campbell is chairman of Intuit and also on the board of directors at Apple.

      At Westhill, Cottet played for head football coach Bill Cunningham. Cottet said Cunningham was in Syracuse at Westhill for just three seasons (his record was 16-3-1). He said Cunningham came to Westhill from Connecticut, then returned to that state to become head coach at Cheshire High School after the 1971 season.  At Cheshire, Cunningham gave future Syracuse head football coach Paul Pasqualoni his first coaching position after he graduated from Penn State.

      Cottet and his wife Kristin (also a Westhill graduate) have lived in DeWitt for the past 34 years. He has worked as a commercial real estate broker with Pyramid Brokerage Company since 2001. Previously, he was in the welding supply business.

      “I’m still very interested in high school sports,” said Cottet, who just turned 60. “It makes me feel old. It makes me feel like I played in the dark ages. What the kids do now with the training and their abilities is fantastic.”

      Westhill High School is celebrating its 50th year. Cottet said the school was successful in several athletic arenas in its early years and produced a couple of its most renowned athletes including future Major League baseball pitcher Dave Lemanczyk (member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame) and Joe Costello, who spent many years in the baseball minor leagues including six at the Class AAA level. Costello died in 2007.

“When it started, I believe they had a tremendous amount of success in virtually every sport the first years of competition as a high school,” Cottet said.


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