For most, the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home order has been a tough situation across the country.
But Jon Caputo focused on the positive — more family time.
The 47-year-old Caputo stepped down last week after nine seasons as Buena Regional High School’s football coach. He guided the Chiefs to three sectional semifinals and two conference titles.
“With this quarantine, it’s a tough time with everything going on,” said Caputo, of Medford, Burlington County.
“But it has been a blessing to spend the time I’ve been able to with my family, which I don’t normally do. This kind of awakened me for what the future can be like.”
Caputo started coaching football about 25 years ago as a coordinator at Hillside in Union County. Over the years, he made lasting memories on the sidelines.
He wants to create more memories, but this time with his family — wife Aimee, son T.J., 17, and daughters Grace, 15, and Abigail, 11.
“I’m very thankful to have this time with them and look forward to spending more with them,” Caputo said.
T.J. is a junior and plays ice hockey at Shawnee. Grace is a freshman and plays field hockey for the Renegades.
Caputo occasionally watches T.J., but has not seen Grace play in high school, outside of a scrimmage, because the field hockey season runs alongside football in the fall.
Caputo is excited to attend more of his children’s games.
“I told (Grace) the first game I’m going to paint a ‘G’ on my chest and scream her name the whole game. I can be one of those guys,” Caputo joked.
Caputo finished with a 56-37 record at Buena. The Chiefs captured the Cape-Atlantic League National (2014) and the West Jersey Football League United Division (2018) titles.
“Jon left a tremendous legacy,” Buena athletic director Dave Albertson said. “He was the glue of this football program and took us to new heights.”
Last season, the Chiefs finished 8-3 and lost 30-28 to eventual Central Group I regional champion Willingboro in a competitive sectional semifinal. It was 22-22 at halftime.
Albertson said the game, despite the loss, was the most memorable he witnessed, and it summed up Caputo’s legacy at Buena.
Willingboro (12-1), which featured multiple NCAA Division I recruits, suffered its only loss to Cedar Creek on Aug. 30.
“It may have been one of the best games we played in his nine-year career,” Albertson said. “Those kids were tough, we were probably undermanned, and he did a great job coaching to be at that level. We were scrappy, well-coached kids.“
Albertson is accepting applications for the open positions. Once the time comes, he will conduct interviews via Zoom.
Caputo, who will remain a health and physical education teacher at Buena, will assist in the hiring process, said Caputo and Albertson.
“Jon cared about the kids,” Albertson said. “He built relationships. He built a program, not just a team. He knew every kid on that team, their academics and social lives, and the kids were willing to do anything for him.
“Jon will surely be missed out there on the field Friday nights.”
Caputo said his favorite memory at Buena was the entire journey alongside his fellow coaches and players.
Caputo, a 1990 Hammonton graduate who played running back and safety for the Blue Devils, was the offensive coordinator for Buena (2007-08). He also assisted at Highland Regional (2001) in Gloucester County and was the head coach at Audubon (2009-10) in Camden County.
“There’s nothing like high school football anywhere, in any sport at any level,” Caputo said. “Just the closeness and the family, through the ups and downs together, that’s what I’ll miss the most.”