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On the beat at night, cops day job is to revive Senators

Sgt. Ken Duilio works the graveyard shift at the Portland Police Bureau's Northeast Precinct. In a way, that's appropriate, because his new day job has taken him to what some might say is a prep football graveyard.

Duilio, however, is determined to breathe life into the Madison High program. The Senators went 0-9 last year, and their roster dwindled to 15 players total, from all four grades. Madison didn't have a junior varsity team, and the freshman squad couldn't finish the season.

In March, Duilio replaced Hugh Wyatt as varsity coach, and already things have begun to turn around.

'I'm not sure how long it will take,' Duilio says. 'There's only three or four seniors, and I'm probably looking at starting eight sophomores next season. But I've got good athletes, our numbers will be up, and we've made tremendous gains in the weight room.'

Madison still won't have a JV team, but Duilio expects to carry about 40 players on the varsity and says he might get 30 or more freshmen out for football. 'We had 10 freshmen turn out for summer ball,' he says, 'and the freshman class is going to be larger. It's projected to be about 365. Hopefully those freshmen can form the basis of a JV team in two years, and then our program will be back to normal, so to speak.'

Duilio, 33, has coached football in the Portland area for about five years. He began with the Police Athletic League of Greater Portland, coaching the Eastside Tigers, a youth team with most of its players in the Gresham area. He got involved with Franklin football and coached the Quakers' freshman team last season. He's still active in the PAL and instructs youngsters in various sports at a summer camp.

'I really like working with at-risk youth, and I'm real good at getting kids to come out,' he says.

Duilio, who grew up in Iowa, has been with the Portland police since 1997. He works four days a week, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. That allows him time to coach and go to Madison to recruit in the hallways.

'I'm trying to tell these kids that we can be part of something special, a solid program,' he says. 'We can respect ourselves and have other people respect us.'

Another selling point, Duilio says, is that he's dropping the rarely used double-wing offense that Wyatt installed at Madison in favor of a more conventional approach that he hopes will be close to 50-50 run-pass.

'I think this will help get more kids out for football,' he says.

One of his varsity players, if things work out, will be his oldest of four children, Jordan, a fullback-defensive end who played freshman ball for Franklin last year. 'I'm trying to get him transferred to Madison, but enrollment transfers are really being tightened down, so I may try to move from the Franklin area,' Duilio says.

On another front, Duilio says he is fighting the same battle as a lot of PIL coaches -a financial one.

'We're already planning some fundraisers to try to offset the lack of funds in the league,' he says. 'I inherited a $1,500 debt in the football account, and I'm not sure we're even going to be able to have helmet stickers next season. It's not even money for anything extra, it's just having enough to survive is what I'm worried about.'

-Steve Brandon