You won’t hear President Donald Trump call Al Crosby a loser. He can’t. There’s no way. All Crosby does is win. The new Neumann-Goretti coach was part of several championship teams at West Catholic as a coordinator. Then, in a few years at the helm of Imhotep Charter, he built it to a national powerhouse. He led the Panthers to two state championship game appearances, winning one and losing one. He won over 95% of his games there and sent two-dozen players into Division I programs. Now, Crosby is leading a resurgence for the ages at Neumann-Goretti, a school that won zero games last year but is 5-0 in 2017.

Crosby left Imhotep for a year, mainly for personal reasons. Four people close to him in his life had passed away in a one-year time span and he needed time for himself. “I needed time to grieve and get myself right emotionally,” he said. “This was a really hard time for me and I had to step away.” No doubt. The loss of a grandmother, a cousin, a stepfather, and close friend Steve Smith, the former coach at Neumann-Goretti, was too much for him. But when he heard that Neumann-Goretti, a staple in South Philadelphia was thinking of closing its doors for football, Crosby offered his services and wanted to honor his friend, who he had battled against for many years while at West Catholic.

“It just seemed like the right time to get back in,” he said. “There are a lot of intriguing things about being back in the Catholic League and I was excited about that. I felt like it was a good story to come back and coach in Steve’s honor and support this neighborhood.” Crosby said that coming back to Imhotep was an option, but probably not as head coach. He wishes the Panthers well and stays close to the current juniors and seniors who played for him there as well as those playing collegiately. Crosby said that he isn’t surprised so much about the Saints’ success, but he is about how much he is enjoying the season. “I think the culture we had at West Catholic and Imhotep and now at Neumann is so important,” he said. “A coach can make a difference for sure, but the kids deserve the credit for this turnaround. Nothing has changed with me. It seemed like the right time to get back in it. I think when you get into this thing, you put a lot of work in it, and we have worked extremely hard to get this success. Our mantra is ‘anything short of successful is disappointing.’ I think the important thing is, everywhere I have been, that the kids just buy in. They know that the coaches are working hard and supporting them and the community has rallied behind this team. At this point, I can’t say how good we are. We are a young team and we make mistakes. But we improve every day and we have fun every day and we work hard every day.

I have great coaches who take care of the x’s and o’s. I like to oversee and run the day-to-day. It’s been very enjoyable and rewarding to help and work with young people. It’s no different than West Catholic or Imhotep in that sense. I think the difference here is that even though we built Imhotep into something special, and it is still something special, Neumann has a large alumni base that we didn’t have there, since it was a relatively new school. South Philadelphia is crazy about their sports teams here at Neumann.”

Crosby also mentioned how administration is totally supportive of his program and how any good program needs that support.

About his track record? “Well it’s kind of like John Calipari in college basketball,” he said. “He comes to UMASS, a team that never won before and they win. He goes to Memphis and they play for the title. He goes to Kentucky and everyone sees what Kentucky is. I think culture and winning go hand in hand and the kids see that and want to be part of it. It’s nice to make a difference.” Neumann plays in the 2A category of the Catholic League and is in the small blue division. “But we still hope to make a run for a state championship,” he said.

Three transfers have had a large impact. Offensive tackle Justin Johnson has committed to Oregon; running back Leddie Brown has made a verbal commitment to West Virginia and Christian Barmore is a defensive lineman who has verbally committed to Temple, but is still receiving offers. “All three are having terrific seasons for us,” Crosby said.


Jeremy Treatman - Contributor

Jeremy Treatman is the founder and co-director of the Scholastic Play-by-Play Classics and Sports Broadcasting Camps. Over 50 NBA players, including Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Rajon Rondo played in his events when they were in high school. Jeremy wrote high school sports for the INQUIRER for 10 years, and was the first TV reporter for the HIgh School Sports Show on Channel 29 from 1994-2001. He currently is Comcast's announcer for all high school games.


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