Scott Ericson: Marinelli the right coach for Greenwich
Published 7:31 pm, Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Less than an hour after resigning as Greenwich's head football coach, Rich Albonizio called long-time friend New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli to not only tell him he had stepped down but to let him know he thought Lou's son John would be perfect for the job.
"Rich was going through what he was going through and not an hour goes by and he calls and said he thought Johnny would be good for the job," Marinelli said. "It was emotional enough hearing Richie had stepped down. We are competitors, but we are also good friends, but when he told me Johnny would be great for the job he just left, it was very special."
Albonizio was right about John Marinelli being a great choice and Wednesday it became official as Marinelli was named the new head coach at Greenwich after serving as offensive coordinator on his father's staff since 2009.
Marinelli was the best choice for the job and becomes just the third coach at Greenwich since 1972.
It was arguably the best high school football coaching job in Connecticut and Greenwich scored big with the hiring of Marinelli.
New Canaan was a great program before John joined the staff, but the overall upgrades to the offense elevated them to perennial championship contenders, mentoring and developing seven All-State quarterbacks since 2006 with the high-scoring Rams playing in state finals five out of the past six seasons, winning three.
With the talent pool in Greenwich the offensive numbers that may come out of that school in the years to come could be scary.
The Rams' offense has averaged 383 points and nearly 5,000 yards of offense under Marinelli, but he is about more than offensive stats.
Behind the scenes, Marinelli could be found in a small office in the bowels of New Canaan High School every night hours after other coaches had gone home, breaking down video and installing new game plans.
There's little doubt there will be a room like that in Greenwich where you will find him sitting in front of his multiple monitors until the wee hours.
He is an offensive savant, running a wide-open attack based on short passes and inside runs setting up deep passes. It is a fast-paced offense with plays coming in quickly and requires a lot of the players running it.
Marinelli makes sure all that learning is as fun as it can be for his players and involves them in the process, letting them name the plays themselves and choose the pictures for the play cards they hold up on the sideline.
"Defensively, offensively and special teams we have a very young energetic staff and we do cool things and keep the kids engaged," Marinelli said back in December. "Our kids come up with the words we use and signals for offense, we just create the scheme. It's awesome the pride they take in it."
Letting the players be involved in the process along with his ability to relate to today's players made him a favorite of the Rams' and will go over well in Greenwich.
The players will not only like his inclusionary style, but once learned, his offense is really fun to play. What player does not love scoring in bunches?
He was also behind the influx of uniform combinations worn by the Rams and while that may seem frivolous, it was an important decision left to the players every week and made them again feel like part of the process.
Taking the job may seem like a no-brainer for Marinelli, but he wrestled with leaving his father's side the last few weeks before accepting the job Wednesday.
Marinelli grew up watching New Canaan games from the bleachers, played for the Rams and came back to coach after college. It is all he has known and now he is going out on his own and to one of the Rams' chief rivals to boot.
His father was torn about his son's decision as well, but ultimately the feeling of pride at seeing his son out on his own won.
"It's a double-edge sword, but he has been preparing for this since he was a kid," the elder Marinelli said. "It will be hard for me because working with him every day was so special but what a great program to go to."
Right now, Lou is the second winningest coach in Connecticut high school history while John sits at 0-0, looking to make his own mark on Connecticut coaching lore.
John may not reach the heights of his father, but one thing is for sure, Greenwich hired the right guy at the right time and the FCIAC just got a whole lot more interesting.