Football: Vin Camera returns to coach Platt Tech

Vin Camera is back doing what he loves to do.

“I was even more excited after my first meeting with the team than when I walked into it and that’s saying something,” Camera said after being named head coach at Platt Tech. “I stepped away two years ago from coaching and it was all about family (twins joining 6-year-old son).”

Camera, a 1997 East Haven graduate, is no stranger to Panther football.

A linebacker at Fairfield University, Camera was an assistant coach at Fairfield Prep before he was brought on board to start the program at Platt Tech in 2007.

Camera left in 2013 to take the head coaching job at Fairfield Ludlowe.

He guided the Falcons to a 6-5 record in his first season. He stepped away after the 2016 campaign with a 12-29 record over his four years.

Camera replaces Jimmy Benjamin, a former assistant who took control of the program when Camera departed for Ludlowe. Platt Tech went 1-9 a year ago.

“There is a different dynamic coaching at a regional school than one with a city-based demographic,” said Camera, who was 24-37-1 in his six years at Tech, which competes in the Connecticut Technical Conference. “They come to a great school like Platt Tech to learn a trade. Kids coming back out for football isn’t that big a problem. The biggest problem is after-school transportation. That’s where we lose some players.”

Any similarities in returning to his old stomping grounds?

“It’s very similar to '07. This time instead of starting from scratch the program is ready for a rebuild,” he said. “Traditionally (in his first time at Platt), we scheduled a couple of public school each year so the kids could learn about how to become an established program.

“We would schedule a Westhill, a Lyman Hall, a Branford High a Foran or a Jonathan Law. Now the CTC has a group of 11 teams, so all the games are in house.”

Camera coached six players at Tech that went on to play in college.

“We had two All-Staters,” he said. “Geremy Grate ran for 32 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards. He had 200-plus yards and a pair of touchdowns against a good Branford team.

“Zatrell Lyons was an All-Stater for us, transferred to West Haven and was All-State again.”

Are there any more diamonds in the rough?

“Thirty returnees were at the meeting, and we had 55 all told,” Camera said. “Joe Calzone is back at quarterback, so that’s a good place to start. We graduated a lot of players up front. There aren’t many cemented positions. We have a lot of players to build with.

“They are young kids. That is the challenging, but also the rewarding part of coaching. We’ll emphasize fundamentals, stress technique and get them in the weight room. It is up to us to not expect, but to earn their respect.”

George Baglini will be Camera’s top assistant.

“George was with me when we started the program,” Camera said. “He is a teacher here  and it will be good to have eyes in the building (Camera teaches math at Ludlowe). George is even keel and a great coach.

“Mike Waller, one of my former players, is another hold over from the former staff and I’m happy to have him.

“Jason Hart, a former assistant at Foran High, is coming aboard and he will bring with him the experience that will really help.

“The way I figure it, we are teachers and that is what we will do. Instead of seven periods, and then a ride home, we add an eight period and go to the football field.”