CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- Most children start getting ready for December and Christmas sometime in July.
Cosby football coach Pete Mutascio started getting ready for this July last December.
Mutascio is getting set for his 12th season as head coach of the Titans, the only coach the program has ever known. He has taken them to four straight playoff appearances and has been looking forward to getting back on a field for months.
But it's not the team's recent success that created his anticipation. It was his own victory.
Mutascio was diagnosed with throat cancer last September but still coached the Titans into last year's playoffs. He underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, and after a precautionary biopsy two weeks ago, has been pronounced cancer free.
"I feel great," Mutascio said as this year's Titans began their fall practices. "Things are looking good."
His disposition wasn't quite as pleasant as he recovered from the treatments over the winter and into the spring. The kids and parents that he has led for so many years returned the favor to Mutascio and his family when he needed it most.
"They've been there for us as a family" Mustascio said of his players. "The Varsity Club and the players during the winter and spring came out and did yard work at my house. Everybody was outstanding."
Mutascio's wife is also a member of the faculty at Cosby, and their fellow teachers and staff chipped in with meals for his family.
"I can't thank everybody enough," Mutascio said. "I'd be remiss if I tried to mention everybody because there were just too many people to thank."
"The players and the coaches stepped up. I think the amount of kids in the spring and summer [workouts] was outstanding. We made a lot of gains."
The Titans will need to make gains as they head toward the regular season. With only 10 seniors and four returning starters on offense, Mustascio will be relying on a younger roster than he's had in the recent past.
But his energy, enthusiasm, and perspective should help balance out some of those shortcomings.
"It's only day two [of practice]" Mustascio explained. "Everybody's an All American without pads on."
"But we look good so far".
From where Mutascio was just a few months ago, they look very good.