Weston’s Lato named next Masuk football coach

Weston's Joe Lato (center) celebrates a state-playoff clinching victory over Barlow on Thanksgiving in 2012. It was only the second state playoff berth in Weston's history. Lato has been hired as Masuk's football coach. (Screen cap Sean Patrick Bowley)

Weston’s Joe Lato (center) celebrates a state-playoff clinching victory over Barlow on Thanksgiving in 2012. It was only the second state playoff berth in Weston’s history. Lato has been hired as Masuk’s football coach. (Screen cap Sean Patrick Bowley)

Joe Lato

Joe Lato

For Masuk, the second time was the charm.

A year after failing to court him for its championship-caliber football program, Masuk has successfully lured Weston’s Joe Lato back to Monroe.

Lato was announced as Masuk’s football coach Tuesday. A Newtown graduate, Lato has coached Weston since 2006 and took the Trojans to their second state playoff berth in school history in 2012.

“Last year it just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” said Lato, who returns to Monroe since he spent time there as an assistant under John Murphy from 2000-05. “This year, it makes a lot more sense. The opportunity’s was there to coach a program at a higher level. I needed to take it.”

A year ago, Lato was a candidate for the job that ultimately went to Ridgefield assistant Dave Brennan, who coached Masuk to a 7-4 record during a 2013 season that was rife with inner turmoil and complaints from parents. Brennan’s contract was not renewed.

Masuk athletic director John DeGennaro said Lato beat four candidates up for the job. The coach will be introduced to the Masuk football players at school Wednedsay or Thursday. Lato will remain a high school gym teacher at Weston.

“It just fits. Everything fits,” Lato said of his return. “It’s a lot of things. especially the familiarity. I didn’t realize I had such good roots here and made so many good connections here. I know what the feeling’s like to coach here and what the sport means to the community. It’s a great opportunity to make a difference here and be a fixture in the kids’ lives.”

Joe Lato during a preseason practice with Weston.

Joe Lato during a preseason practice with Weston.

Lato was an all-state linebacker and running back at Newtown under Bob Zito when the the Nighthawks won their last state championships in 1990 and 1992. He attended Nichols College and then served 10 years as an assistant at Newtown and, later, Murphy’s staff at Masuk.

“We’re very excited and I’m excited for our players,” DeGennaro said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen Joe coach as member of own staff and as a coach at Weston. He has impressive knowledge of the game and is just as impressive with the way he reacts with his players and gets the most out of them. He’s done such a great job at Weston.

“He ‘s also a great teacher. He’s a great teacher who happens to be a football coach as well, also a great coach on life.”

Lato was hired away from Masuk to Weston in 2006. He was 35-49 as head coach of the Trojans. Weston went from 0-10 to a winning team within four seasons.

Weston had three straight winning seasons from 2010-2012. In 2012, the Trojans qualified for their first state playoff in 23 years. They reached the Class M semifinals before losing to Berlin.

He broke the news to his Weston players on Tuesday.

“It was tough,” Lato said. “I never want to do that again, especially to a bunch of kids who’ve worked so hard and everybody at Weston who did so much for the program as a community. They’re trying to do great things there — they’re talking about getting lights, we built a youth program together — it hurts to think about. But that’s part of life, I guess.”

Lato’s first order of business as Masuk’s new coach was to attend a party for the Monroe Lions 8th grade youth football program, which was celebrating its fifth-straight unbeaten season.

Many of those players will be a part of Lato’s first class next season.

“To see everybody coming out in the middle of February to celebrate football is pretty cool,” he said. “It’s great to see.”

Comments

  1. inerested parent says

    Gym teacher and coach. It is amazing how you can make a living pretending to be a teenager. Honestly sports is so out of control these days with AAU, camps, etc. It used to be that Hilltop Clinic at ND was that whole show for 50 bucks.

  2. Youth athletic supporter says

    Pretending to be a teenager huh? You must be speaking from several years of coaching and inspiring our youth to be their personal best. I have tremendous respect for today’s coaches. Dealing with every parent thinking that their kid is better than the next. Perhaps you were a dork with no abilities or leadership skills in your youth and as an adult you believe we need to change our culture. Today’s coaches are building leaders who will contribute to society. Coach Lato will be a great asset to the community. Go back to band camp….. What are you going to do with your flute this year?

  3. decision time says

    now lets see how smart Lato is…does he clean house like he should or does he keep people around who are bad, bad for kids and bad for the school. Start fresh coach, start fresh…

  4. Masuk Alum says

    Good luck to Lato as he is a good person and a hard working coach. A little advice, watch out for the crazy parents with unrealistic expectations at Masuk (the next few years will be tough for you without much talent to build on) and watch out for the back stabbing assistant coach who was behind the walk out last year.

    It will not take much to win in the swc and Lato has a great opportunity to finally put together a team with a large enrollment and will get the best of the talent at hand.

  5. SWC-Masuk says

    What does everybody mean clear house? Brennan kept around almost everybody who was there under Murphy and under Murphy they worked out good. Just shows you need a HC to actually run a team. The coach who walked out on the practice just so happens to be one of Lato’s best friends and his walking out was a culmination of frustration with Brennan being an awful coach. Seeing that goon Brennan no more is absolutely awesome!

  6. jRs says

    One thing is for certain… Coach Lato will bring Heart & Passion- That’s who he is. As for “Crazy Parents with Unrealistic Expectations”… He’s seen that & done that. Joe Lato gives every ounce of himself to his players and to the game. He’s a QUALITY guy, can laugh at himself, and will do everything he can to teach life skills (and football) in Monroe…. Weston’s Loss is Masuk’s Gain- Good Luck Coach!

  7. JD says

    Could not be happier for the kids at Masuk. I have two there and we need to move on quickly from the past. We welcome coach Lato to Masuk.

    • Masuk Alum says

      unlike you parents welcomed Brennen last season. Really too bad nobody gave him a chance starting with the crazy parents who attempted to ruin this guy’s chances before he even played one game. Good luck to Lato as he will need it with this group.

      • JD says

        Funny you say that…I stood up at the “parents”meeting and supported coach Brennan, which I did for the entire season, some of us gave him a chance. What that being said it didn’t work, no hard feelings but time to move on. And he did have a chance, he had an 11 game season to prove to everyone he was the man. That “parent” meeting was PRESEASON. there were 12 weeks of football after that. Not all Masuk parents are crazy…

  8. CTHSFBFan says

    This is a GREAT hire. I thought he was the best man for the job last year – but this will work out better for him (a year removed from Murphy). I think the “interim” coach was in a tough spot. Following Murphy with a less talented group was not an ideal situation. I hope the Monroe community gives him a FULL chance – Lato is a quality coach and a good man.

  9. Hope for Masuk says

    Not sure they were “less than talented” from the looks of things they were one of only a small group of teams who actuclly got worse as the season went on. Too much favoritism, not holding kids accountable, assistant coaches making deals with parents. very bad from what I hear. O was very predictable and D spent a lot of time on the field. Hopefully Lato will fix things but Monroe has to remember it will not be a one year fix.

    • cthsfbfan says

      I didn’t say “less than talented” – I said less talented than the team Murphy had the last few years. There is no denying that the graduation of Thomas Milone alone made the team less talented. Monroe has a good feeder program. They will be fine – especially with Lato at the healm.

  10. SWC Vet says

    One thing I can say is this, Coach Lato is a great man, a really good hearted man. He was underappreciated at Weston. If nothing else, Coach Lato is one of the rare coaches that will care about everything that surrounds football, not just football itself. He strives to get the most out of kids, in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. Any program would be lucky to have him, and will reap the benefits far beyond wins and losses. I commend Masuk and Coach Lato for making a good choice, I’m sure the benefits will be endless.

    As for the talk of last years staff, Masuk now has a chance to start fresh, last year was a tough spot for everyone involved and now they all have an oppurtunity to walk away, wash their hands of it, and hit the reset button. In this case, everyone should, in my opinion, stop talking about it and lay it to rest. Embrace the change, embrace accountability, and embrace a good man as he will undoubtedly embrace his role and his teams role in that school and in the community.

    The future looks bright there for everyone invovled, Good Luck Masuk, and Good Luck Coach Lato!

  11. JON says

    I dont know what went on but I cannot get past the idea of anyone supporting a coach walking out on his players during the season?? Really?? You NEVER do that and find a way to get it done the best you can no matter what, and you do that for the kids by leading by example. Your teaching them to walk out on their team/family is ok?? This is more than just football its also life lessons here! Also, I am a so called “gym” teacher at the elementary level and also a HS coach. So I guess I am worthless person who is a teenager wannabe!!! Wow, I learn something new every day.

  12. Hannibal Barca says

    As a Weston alumnus, good luck and many thanks to Mr. Lato. I’m glad he’s still around to teach gym in Weston; he’ll touch more kid’s lives that way. As for Masuk, it seems football is more important up in Monroe; they’ve landed a good man who’s a proven winner and I wish them luck. This is a win-win for both school systems (and for Lato too).

  13. Frank Webb says

    Give it a year, Masuk will find a job for their Football Coach, which they should. Everything I have heard about Coach Lato, and not these blogs , is positive, he loves his players and will bleed for them. Hard to find people like that for what these jobs pay. All the best, you should move your program to the SCC or FCIAC.

  14. JD says

    Coach Lato is the greatest thin to happen to Masuk…Kids love him and the program will be back to where it should be soon, very soon.

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