Mike Forget, who was named the interim coach of the Darien football program last February, is now the head coach of the Blue Wave, athletic director Chris Manfredonia confirmed on Thursday.
Forget was Darien’s defensive coordinator for eight years before taking over for former coach Rob Trifone, who had led Darien to three state titles and four FCIAC championships in 13 years.
“He’s done a great job for nine years with us including this past year, when there was obviously a lot of adversity,” Manfredonia said. “We just felt he’s earned it, so we’re happy to have him (as coach). We met with him and told him yesterday and sent an email out today to the team and the parents.”
“It feels great and I was humbled by their decision to remove the interim tag,” Forget said. “I look forward to getting through these COVID times where we can have a real season and get back to real football.”
After Trifone stepped down in January, 2020, Darien had started a coaching hunt, but was unable to complete the interview process with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district decided to make the football coaching job a one-year position at the time, with Forget leading the team.
Manfredonia said “judging from the feedback and emails,” they received, players and parents were very supportive of Forget.
Forget said the response from the kids has been “overwhelming.”
“When I was interviewing for the position the other day, they referenced the fact that many parents, players and alumni had come out of the woodwork to write emails in support of my becoming the full-time head coach, so that was overwhelming and I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead this program.”
A former head coach at Ludlowe and an assistant at Westhill and Masuk, Forget joined Trifone’s Darien program as the defensive coordinator in 2012. The Blue Wave became one of the state’s elite programs during an eight-year span, highlighted by back-to-perfect seasons when they went 12-0 in 2015 and 13-0 in 2016.
“Coach Trifone was like a brother to me,” Forget said when he was named to replace Trifone last February. “I was at Masuk High School with John Murphy when (Trifone) reached out to me and said he wanted to work together. We talked about it and the rest is history.”
When the CIAC cancelled 11-on-11 football due to the pandemic in the fall, the Blue Wave instead played in an independent league attached to the Fairfield County Football League, which runs a local youth program.
Although they had faced uncertainty and eventually had their independent season cut to just four games, Forget said the Blue Wave players handled the adversity well.
“Our kids were excellent,” Forget said. “As we went through the beginning of the season, we weren’t sure what was going to happen, so the coaches and I kept on saying ‘all will be well, we’re going to get through this, we’re going to get through this together, and that’s what we do.’ That’s what we did and the kids were great.”
Forget said that at the moment, the team is in the organizational stage. The Darien weight room hasn’t opened up yet, so coaches are sending emails with workouts to do at home, and some kids have gone to private businesses to do the workouts.
Forget said they’re hopeful they’ll be able to do more moving forward, possibly with spring and summer football.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s kind of out of our hands,” Forget said.
From Manfredonia’s perspective, having Forget at the helm of a program he’s been involved with for nearly a decade, is a comfortable feeling.
“Mike’s been a coach with us for many years,” Manfredonia said. “So it makes for continuity and a smooth transition on a lot of different fronts.”