As expected, Holmdel defensive coordinator Frank Papalia was approved as the Hornets’ head football coach on Wednesday night, replacing good friend Andy Carlstrom, which means that we head into the summer with every team knowing who its head coach is going to be.
Carlstrom was laid off as a math teacher earlier this month, and the Hornets turned to Papalia, a Central graduate who orchestrated one of the top defenses in the Shore Conference in 2007 when Holmdel won a school-record 10 games and the National Division title. Papalia is an enthusiastic guy who has a good rapport with the players, so I figured he would be the guy to replace Carlstrom. Holmdel went 1-9 this past fall, but the Hornets played a ton of sophomores, particularly on defense, and should be back on the rise in the next two years.
Papalia’s hiring comes one day after Point Beach confirmed Steve Sasse, who replaces Nick Giglio, who took the head job at Red Bank. I actually bumped into Giglio the other day at a Red Bank baseball game and the work has already begun in earnest in trying to turn around the Bucs. Sasse is a Point Beach fixture who is the school’s head wrestling coach, and in a Group I school, he will be dealing with a lot of the same athletes in both sports. It was assumed that Point Beach would stay in house with its hiring, so Sasse getting the head job makes sense.
So, to recap, here are the new head coaches heading into 2009: Sasse, Papalia, Giglio, Greg LaCava (Colts Neck); Pat Dowling (Brick); Skip Edwards (St. John Vianney); and Ron Raymond (Mater Dei). Giglio, Sasse, and Raymond inherit programs that are trying to dig out from the bottom of the standings, Edwards takes over an up-and-down SJV team that lost most of its top players when they headed for the hills and transferred after the resignation of coach John Amabile, LaCava takes over a team that lost a lot to graduation but still has talent, and Dowling inherits the toughest situation of anyone – following Warren Wolf in a town that is divided over his hiring. No shortage of plotlines there.