'I feel great': Rochester Adams' Tony Patritto ready to roam sidelines after COVID-19 bout

David Goricki
The Detroit News

The high school football season is upon us and no one is happier to be on the sidelines than Rochester Adams head coach Tony Patritto.

Patritto, one of the most highly respected coaches in the state, didn’t take part in Adams’ first day of practice back on Aug. 10, missing the opening day for the first time in 30 years.

Rochester Adams head coach Tony Patritto

And, then the Michigan High School Athletic Association postponed the season Aug. 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing it back to the spring.

But, when the MHSAA changed course on Sept. 3 to bring football back to life again, Patritto was ready to get back to leading his program.

Patritto, 56 and in his 18th year as Adams head coach, will be sending out his triple-option offense in the season opener Thursday at home against a North Farmington team which had an unbeaten regular season while winning the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title.

A lot has happened in a short time, but it’s hard to believe Patritto would be in the position he is now in after testing positive for COVID in July. He spent two weeks in the intensive-care unit at Troy Beaumont.

Now, Patritto has fully recovered where he is not only back to coaching, but also back running and lifting weights.

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“I feel great. It’s great to be out there with the guys again, just trying to find a way to blow my whistle with my mask on,” Patritto said. “Just being out there and really having a greater appreciation for the time with the coaches and the kids, it’s just been awesome.

“It’s been about two months now (since being hospitalized). Really, so far so good, my chest X-rays came back good with my follow-up, I’m off all the medicine I was taking. I feel so blessed. You always worry, but everything has been great so far. I’ve done a little running, get a couple of miles in when I get a chance, but have been so busy.”

Patritto is making sure he is doing everything possible to keep his staff and players safe.

“We do screening online before practice every day where they have questions to answer, just like a lot of employers are doing,” Patritto said. “We take their temperature when they arrive. and they have to wear a mask the entire time when we’re at practice and while we’re playing.

“After everything I’ve been through I’m not limiting anything because everything is positive, and I don’t think things could be any better.”

Adams will be facing North Farmington in an OAA White game. North Farmington, coached by Jon Herstein — with help from the state’s winningest coach John Herrington (443 wins, 13 state titles at Farmington Hills Harrison — moved up to the White division this season.

In years past, teams have a scrimmage or two before playing a game. That’s not the case this season, so how well conditioned will players be in the opener?

“The kids are so great; they are so resilient, they are just working hard and having a great time playing football,” Patritto said. “I think we’ll find out where the holes are in conditioning when we play the game, but until you play the game and you get that kind of emotional fatigue on top of the physical fatigue, that’s when you find out what do we need to do in terms of depth and resting guys to keep it good?”