Native sons & former Lancers now an Ithaca football trio

Published in the October 13, 2017 edition

THE SCARPA triplets of Melrose are a tough trio for Ithaca college football team. Sophomores Ben, Anthony and Mike Scarpa (pictured from left) are helping the undefeated Bombers this season. Ben is a wide receiver while Anthony and Mike are offensive linemen. (courtesy photo)


MELROSE—Football is no stranger to the Scarpa family of Melrose. These days, the sport has proven a tie that binds for three of their young family members: triplets Anthony, Ben and Michael Scarpa,19, a trio now playing college football for the Ithaca University Bombers.

The 2016 Malden Catholic graduates were game-changers for the Lancers during their four seasons at the school. Anthony was a tight end for the Lancers, Mike an offensive lineman and Ben a jack-of-all-trades, who played everything from linebacker, running back to safety. This season Ben (5’10 180lb) is a wide receiver for the Bombers, and both Mike (5’10 240lb) and Anthony (6’3 250 lb) are offensive linemen, all coached under the tutelage of Dan Swanstrom. It’s been an excited opening to their season, just this week Ithaca College picked up its third consecutive victory and moved to 3-0 in the Liberty League with a 46-6 win over the University of Rochester.

The Scarpa triplets are the sons of Michael and Linda of Melrose and sister to Olivia, a sophomore at Melrose High. The trio started in the Melrose Pop Warner circuit, where they were coached by their dad. The Winthrop School & Melrose Memorial Veteran’s Middle School alums then attended Malden Catholic, where they helped turn around a 0-11 Lancer team to winning team in a notoriously tough Catholic Conference (that includes rivals St, Johns Prep, and Xaverian.) After helping the Lancers earn a 7-4 season (the team’s best record since 1997) during their senior season, the Scarpas competed in Malden Catholic’s first Div. 2 playoff appearance in years. Anthony and Ben were named Catholic Conference All-Stars and Mike awarded the Team Leadership Award that season.

“They absolutely helped us turn around the team,” says Malden Catholic head coach Jeff Smith. “They dedicated time in the weight room, brought high energy to the team. They’re unique in their own way—if you look at the three of them, it’s like small, medium, and large,” he jokes. And while the Scarpas packed a punch on Donovan Field, they were just as impressive in the classroom. “I had them in class, they were great students. All of them gave back to the community, volunteered their time. They’re really good kids from a good family.” 

Anthony spoke of the transition from high school football to college. “It’s a big change, faster and more intense” he said. “You have a greater understanding of the game. But there is great camaraderie and fun, the same kind of morals and goals we experienced while playing at Malden Catholic.”

Says Michael Scarpa, “We have great coaches who are teaching us a lot about things on and off the field. Also, being able to play in a game like the Cortaca Jug game is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Anthony recalls his experience at Malden Catholic and that exciting senior season when a trip to playoffs was on the line against Catholic Memorial. “That game went down to double OT,” he said. “My brother Ben scored twice, including the touchdown in overtime.” That represented the Lancers first Catholic Conference victory in several years and helped Malden Catholic punch a ticket to the Div. 2 North playoffs. 

Ben Scarpa spokes of their determination to win that season. “Malden Catholic was always struggling, so as a senior class we were determined to change the culture of the program. Our game against CM was an opportunity for us to make the playoffs for the first time in almost 50 years, so we knew we had a lot to play for.” 

“We had great chemistry, a bunch of great athletes,” Michael recalls. “There was just a different attitude in our locker room overall. Catholic Memorial was a game that all of us wanted to win more than anything.” And it was mission accomplished. 

Clearly, football plays a large role in the Scarpa family. Says Ben, “Football is definitely the main topic of the household during the season. My brothers and I are always talk to my dad about football, whether it’s Ithaca or the Patriots.”

“It’s a lot during the season,” Anthony admits. “But it also brings us together. And when we’re not together, my mom, dad and sister text us from Melrose and its always a great confidence boost.”

It’s little wonder that Ithaca scouted the Scarpas as a trinity. All three Scarpas wanted to stick together in college. Says Ben, “It was important for us to stay together when choosing colleges because we wanted to make it easier on our parents. With all three of us playing at the same school, our parents can watch without having to choose who’s game to go to.” 

The three are sophomores now, and so far Ben has seen time on the field this season. Not surprisingly, all three are business majors at Ithaca. “The academics were hard to pass up,” says Ben. “Along with a football program with as great of a tradition as Ithaca offers.”

And as they continue with more years of collegiate football ahead of them, one thing is for certain: the future is bright for the Scarpa triplets of Melrose.

“They are an inseparable unit, best friends,” concludes coach Smith. “Why wouldn’t they stay together to continue their football career?”