Gerry Zannella will be the new football coach at South Kingstown High School.

A former head coach at Coventry and Cumberland and an assistant with the Rebels last year, Zannella was chosen for the job in May and the appointment became official last week with school committee approval.

“I threw my hat into the ring and was fortunate to be chosen,” Zannella said. “I’m really happy. I can’t wait to get the season started. It’s exciting.”

Zannella takes over for Eric Anderson, who stepped down after last season, concluding a long and successful stint at the helm. Anderson helped lead the Rebels to Division II championships in 2007 and 2008, then navigated the transition to the state’s top league, where the Rebels have held their own. They have qualified for the D-I playoffs in four consecutive years.

After his second stint as head coach at Coventry ended, Zannella joined Anderson’s staff last year.

“I thought I would lend a hand where I was needed with coach Anderson,” Zannella said. “What attracted me was their success – state champs in D-II and competitive in D-I.”

Zannella is a graduate of Cranston High School West, where he initially started his coaching career as an assistant. A 30-year faculty member at Coventry High School, he has also held assistant positions at Salve Regina University, North Kingstown High School and Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, along with the head jobs at Coventry and Cumberland.

“He’s got a lot of experience and some experience with our kids, having been an assistant with us last year,” South Kingstown athletic director Terry Lynch said. “We’re looking forward to him making it a smooth transition.”

Zannella is looking forward to continued work with the players he got to know last year, while fully joining South Kingstown’s athletic community.

“They’re great guys. I really enjoyed working with them. They came every day, willing to work and absorbing everything,” Zannella said. “And the other thing is, overall, it’s a very healthy and solid entire athletic community. The programs they have at the guild and the rec center, the success of all the sports at the high school – it’s a very healthy environment. It’s a testament to the kids, the parents, the community, the athletic administration and the school administration. I’m fortunate to be a part of it.”

The coaching staff is taking shape. Tucker Brierty, a longtime assistant under Anderson, is expected to stay on. Former Cranston West head coach Steve Stoehr – a high school teammate of Zannella’s – will join the staff, along with former Coventry assistant Andy Bean.

“We’ve got some really knowledgeable guys, and I think it’s a great recipe, given the players we have and where we want to go,” Zannella said.

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