Rich Albonizio’s decision to resign as Greenwich’s football coach was, naturally, a tough one.
So tough, in fact, that despite wanting to stay on for a 19th year, it looked like the 64-year old coach had no other choice but to quit.
“It wasn’t totally my decision, I felt kind of pressured into doing it. The opinion of some people was that it would be better for the program if I left. I thought about it for a while and made my decision.”
Update: Albonizio offered more insight to Stamford Advocate’s Scott Ericson, saying his resignation was “orchestrated sabotage”
“I was not going to resign but got a phone from someone I admire and it was shocking. He told me none of the players liked or respected me.”— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) January 23, 2015
@EricsonSports: “When a person of that stature infiltrates the dark side it is hard to stay.”
— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) January 23, 2015
Indeed, since an incredible nine-year run from 1999-2007, during which the Cardinals won five FCIAC championships and three state titles while making mince meat of their opponents, the football program had fallen on — ahem — hard times.
In Albonzio’s final eight years, Greenwich only reached the playoffs once — a 2012 quarterfinal loss to Xavier. His teams did win seven or more games in all but one season. But, for Greenwich, this apparently wasn’t enough.
This year, rumors of dissatisfaction among parents, fans and boosters rekindled as Greenwich — ranked No. 6 in the preseason — started the year an unheard of 0-3 with losses to West Haven, Darien and New Canaan. Albonzio, who is 254-101-6 as a head coach, admitted even he’d never lost three games to start the year.
Despite a rash of injuries, Greenwich managed to get itself in playoff position with a seven-game win streak. But a 38-21 loss to Staples knocked them from a Class LL playoff spot.
“Actually, even though we were 7-4, I was really impressed with the job our coaching staff did and I was very proud of our team,” Albonizio told the Time. “We had so many injuries and had to battle through some adversity, but the kids really played hard for each other. I can’t say enough about our players. They were fantastic.
But program issues seemed to linger. “There are issues at Greenwich that are a little tough to overcome,” he told Fierro.
Albonizio told the Time that as pressure mounted, he consulted with Garland Allen, the athletic director who hired him from Trinity Catholic take over for the legendary Mike Ornato in 1997, before announcing his resignation.
It looks like it will be a staff overhaul, too. Assistants Robert Mata, Stephen Murphy and Carl Cairo are resigning, according to the Time. Albonizio expressed a desire to continue coaching.