DUBLIN – He guided a long-struggling program from the doldrums to respectability, winning the first playoff game at the school in 50 years.
Yet it was his humanity that Dublin football coach Bob Cervetto became best known for during his time at DHS — a tenure that we now know will officially end on June 30 following the announcement of his retirement today in Dublin.
Cervetto, 62, will finish out the school year as Athletic Director, before settling into retirement with his wife Norma. He will be succeeded by longtime assistant Greg Hardcastle.
In his wake, Cervetto leaves behind an impactful career that saw Dublin ISD name its football field after him after his first nine years of service. He finishes with a modest-looking 40-65 overall record in 10 seasons. Modest, that is, until you compare it to what preceded him.
“A lot of coaches I have spoken to who had retired always told me ‘you’ll know when it’s time,’ said Cervetto on his decision to hang up the whistle. “I think the Good Lord is always in control and it was through him I got this job.”
After a 30-year stint at Stephenville as a coach and administrator, Cervetto took the Dublin job in 2011, inheriting an 0-10 team that had posted a 2-28 mark in the three seasons prior to his arrival. The Lions had not won a playoff game since 1964 and had topped six wins in a season only once in the previous 20 (a 7-3 mark in 2006).
It was a losing culture and had been that way for decades.
Cervetto, however, with a non-stop smile, a gift for motivation and an underlying fierce competitive nature, was determined to right a wrecked ship.
The early struggles were abundant, but the improvement was obvious. Records of 1-9 and 2-8 were followed by a 4-6 mark in 2013. And finally, a breakout 7-5 season in 2014 that included the program’s first playoff win since 1964.
The high point of Cervetto’s tenure came in a two-year run of 8-3 and 9-3 marks posted in 2018 and 2019, the latter of which was the highest season victory total by the Lions in 36 years.
A combination of youth, injuries and COVID saw Dublin slip to 1-8 in 2020, but that had nothing to do with Cervetto’s departure. On the contrary, it had everything to do with him continuing to coach.
While the thought of retirement had been in the back of his mind for some time, the timing of it was going to be important. With Dublin ISD naming its new on-campus football facility “Bob and Norma Cervetto Field” prior to a season with heavy graduation losses to deal with, Cervetto believed it would be a difficult scenario to put a new coach through.
So, rather than leaving on a high note, he worked with his youthful club and endured a rebuilding season in his last year of wearing the headset. But in Cervetto’s world, football was only a small part of why he was hired in the first place.
“I got to spend 30 years in Stephenville and I got to work with some great coaches and great people. … Coming over here to Dublin, we thought we could make things better. It’s a great community and through vision, a great superintendent, great school board and great administration, good things started happening.
“We’ve got a blue ribbon school now. The kids are scoring high in the classroom and that means a lot. It’s neat to feel I’ve been a part of that.”
“After spending 40 years with kids and watching them grow and mature and being in this area, I’ve coached a lot of dads and granddads. But when they come back and they appear to be better and they say thank you and hug you, then you realize that you did things right.”