He still keeps in touch with many of his former players and says he’s proud of what they have become as adults. “That’s the reason why you coach,” he said.
But Aprea, 49, says it’s time for something else. His son, J.R., is completing his freshman year at Shelton High School and Aprea says he’s transitioning into a new career after spending much of his professional life as a teacher.
So, after nearly a decade guiding the tech school program — which culminated into an improbable state playoff appearance in 2017 — Aprea stepped down as head coach Wednesday. He made the announcement on Facebook Thursday evening.
“My life is moving in a different direction,” Aprea said. “It’s time to spend more time with my wife (Lisa) and son and enjoy watching him competing in high school.
“It’s bittersweet. The fact is I will miss many of the relationships I’ve had here at O’Brien. I still love the fact that I keep in touch with so many of my former players. I’ll miss that. But I also know the idea of being a full-time husband, a full-time dad is a wonderful way to spend my time.”
Aprea added that a friend has offered him a new career opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He said he and his wife hope to relocate once his son graduates from Shelton. “I’m excited for this new challenge,” he said.
Aprea, who took over for Ken Roberts after the program’s inaugural season, went 26-42 as O’Brien’s head coach. After winning just seven games in his first four seasons, including an 0-11 season in 2014, O’Brien Tech saw a massive turnaround by 2017.
Led by the Roc brothers, Jonte And Jommar, the Condors went 8-3, were runner-up in the inaugural Connecticut Technical Conference season and qualified for the school’s first state playoff. O’Brien Tech lost to St. Joseph in the Class M quarterfinals.
Aprea’s team followed up with an 7-3 season but didn’t have enough playoff points to secure a second appearance.
“Coaching football takes a lot of time, people don’t realize that,” said Aprea, who was heavily involved in the program’s fundraising efforts with the booster club. “I’m leaving the program when the program has a lot going for it. I’m leaving it in a better place than when it started and that’s important to me. It’s always been important to me because it was the one job that gave a group of kids the opportunity to play football that they might not have had that opportunity any place else.”