2023 CT high school football coaching changes include resignations of former state champions

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Mike Forget (Darien), Reggie Lytle (Hillhouse) and Dan Hassett (Weston) are three state championship coaches who resigned after the 2022 season.

Mike Forget (Darien), Reggie Lytle (Hillhouse) and Dan Hassett (Weston) are three state championship coaches who resigned after the 2022 season.

File Photos / Hearst Connecticut Media

As far as coaching changes go, it's been another busy couple of months following the 2022 high school football season.

Seven coaches, including three former state champions, have left their positions. Two schools have already filled the vacancies.

Below is a look who's out and who's in so far during the 2022-23 offseason -- as far as we've confirmed. There are and will be others.

Coginchaug / Hale Ray / East Hampton (vacant)

Mike Eagle resigned down as head coach of the tri-op after going 6-14 after three seasons.

 “Coach Eagle was instrumental to me in really maneuvering us through the pandemic,” Coginchaug athletic director Todd Petronio said. "To keep the kids involved, I can’t thank him enough for that. I was disappointed. I like Mike a lot and wish him the best.”

Petronio said that two assistant coaches have remained with the program, and have taken over the weight room training with the players. 

Petronio said the job posting closed on Monday and they are hoping to start interviews this week. Eagle could not be reached for comment.

Darien (vacant)

Mike Forget resigned after two seasons as Darien's head coach after going 18-5, including a 12-1 Class LL championship and the final No. 1 ranking in the New Haven Register/GametimeCT Top 10 Poll in his first full year as head coach.

Forget had been the program's defensive coordinator under Rob Trifone since 2012, helping the Blue Wave to three-consecutive state championships in six appearances. He took over for Trifone on an interim basis in 2020 and was appointed as head coach ahead of the 2021 championship run.

Darien went 6-4 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

“After devoting 11 years to the program and enjoying much success, it is time for me to move on to my next adventure," Forget wrote in a text message. “I am sad to be leaving but have truly enjoyed my time. To all the young men I have had the pleasure of coaching in the Darien community, I wish you nothing but the best.”

Darien athletic director Chris Manfredonia said in December, they would be posting the job immediately. 

Hillhouse (filled)

Alumnus Walter Gibbs, who has spent the last 16 years as an assistant at Soutthern Connecticut State, takes over for Reggie Lytle, who resigned after  going 50-45 over nine seasons, including a Class M championship in 2016.

Gibbs played for Hillhouse from 1995-99 and played college football for Delaware State and Southern Connecticut State University. He helped lead the Owls to their first NCAA Division II playoff berth.

"I’m biased, but I believe Hillhouse is one of best programs in the state," he told  GameTimeCT in January. "One of my goals, in addition to helping as many kids as we can become good players and good citizens, is hopefully winning a lot of games."

New London (filled)

Bobby Sanchez was announced as the next Whalers head coach on Sunday. Sanchez replaces Johnny Burns, who resigned at the end of the season after being suspended for the team's final game. Burns was 17-23 in five seasons as head coach.

Sanchez had previously an assistant coach at Valley Regional/Old Lyme, including its 2014 state championship seasins. More recently, he coached at Hamden in 2021 and at Middletown last season. 

“I am excited about the potential in New London, and I am also humbled by the opportunity," he said in a statement provided by the school. "The talent, leadership and resources are in place for the program to grow and have sustained success. I am also aware of and respect the tradition, expectations and community pride surrounding the program. That is why I wanted this position."

Newington (vacant) 

Jason Pace stepped down after five seasons as the coach of the Nor'Easterns. He went 24-27 in his five seasons, leading the program to the playoffs in 2019 — the school's first postseason in 11 years/

Pace said he has three young daughters and wasn't able to give his all to coaching a program competiting in the CCC's biggest and most competitive division, CCC Tier I. "You can't cut corners," he said. "For me it was more feeling bad for the players. "I didn't think it was fair to them."

Tolland (vacant)

Mitch Egazarian stepped down as Tolland's head coach after three years and two seasons. He went 11-9 in his two seasons, including a 7-3 mark in 2021. 

A teacher at Tolland, Egazarian is originally from Berlin has coached around the state and was the defensive coordinator for Sheehan during its 2019 Class S state champions, Sheehan. He hasn’t ruled out coaching again anytime soon.  “I’ll probably pop up somewhere else down the road,” he said. 

Tolland athletic director Tim McCluskey said they would like have a new coach in place by the end of February. 

Westhill (vacant)

Aland Joseph resigned as Westhill's head coach after two seasons, citing family obligations. “It has been a rough day, it was really tough to tell the players I was stepping down,” Joseph told GameTimeCT in November.

“In August, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it was a lot this season. I had to miss a few practices which I have never done before. It wasn’t fair to her and wasn’t fair to the boys for me to be splitting my time. It was tough coaching this year with that on my mind.”

Joseph was 2-18 with the Vikings.

Weston (vacant)

Dan Hassett, who coached Weston to a 2019 Class M championship, resigned after spending 13 years with the program — the last six as head coach.

Hassett took over on an interim basis with two games remaining in the 2016 and got the job full time in 2017. The program saw instance success. The Trojans went 6-4 and 7-3 in his first two seasons and in 2019 he led the program to its first state title, 27-6 over Killingly in the Class M final. It capped an 12-1 season, the best in school history.

“He was an amazing person in the lives of a lot of high school athletes,” Weston athletic director Mark Berkowitz said. “He will be missed for the positive impact he had on the kids, program and community.”

Hassett finishes his tenure at Weston 33-22. 

“We proved that Weston can compete at the state level,” Hassett said. “I’ll miss relationships you have with the kids and the families, the laughter and the tears is certainly the part I will miss the most.”

Berkowitz said the job was posted and he is starting interviews later this week. He said he hopes to have a coach in place by the end of February.

Note: This story has been updated with confirmation that the Newington job is vacant with Pace's resignation.