As an outsider with no head coaching experience, Rudy Simonetti initially faced long odds in his bid to become Dover High School’s new football coach.
But the 32-year-old assistant coach from Passaic Valley Regional High in Little Falls, New Jersey, was approved by the Capital School Board last week. He plans to meet the Senators’ players on Wednesday and conduct interviews to assemble a coaching staff on Thursday.
“I’ve waited nine years for this. This is going to be my 10th year of coaching,” Simonetti said Monday. “When I was in college, I knew I wanted to help kids become good citizens, reach their highest potential and really make a positive impact in their lives.”
Simonetti replaces Dante Jones, whose contract was not renewed after coaching Dover to a 16-16 record over the last three years. Dover went 9-3 and lost to Salesianum in overtime in the DIAA Division I semifinals in Jones’ first season, but struggled to a combined 7-13 mark the last two years.
Simonetti has already seen the Senators on film. Now, he’s ready to see them in person.
“I saw a lot of athletic ability, a lot of potential with this team,” the new coach said. “As soon as I get down there, we’re going to get to work.”
Simonetti comes from a deep football background. His cousin has been a longtime high school coach in North Jersey, and his father is a veteran rec league coach. He played and coached under current Passaic Valley coach Chet Parlavecchio, a former Penn State and NFL linebacker, who went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Tennessee Titans.
Dover principal Dr. Courtney Voshell said Simonetti stood out during the interview process.
“The one thing that meant the world to me was when I have a veteran coach on my panel who has won many awards, and after Rudy left the room, this coach said, ‘I want to play football for that guy,’” Voshell said. “That was pretty convincing.
“Nobody knew Rudy at all,” Voshell added. “He was an applicant who came in and showed he was a coach, 100 percent a coach. He came in with a high level of motivation.”
Simonetti, who is certified to teach special education, is currently teaching at Little Falls Middle School and hopes to land a teaching job at Dover. He said he has no favored style or system for the Senators.
“I’m going to be very multiple, flexible,” Simonetti said. “We’re going to fit our offensive and defensive schemes to fit the players. We won’t fit our players to a certain scheme. The minute you do that, you won’t be very successful.”
Bring on spring
The first three weeks of March have been much warmer and drier than the same period the last two years, allowing all of Delaware’s spring sports teams to hold their preseason practices in better conditions.
So everyone will be ready to hit the ground running when the season officially starts Tuesday, but it will be a slow start. With most schools enjoying spring break next week, many teams will only play one or two games over the next two weeks, or not start at all until the first full week of April.
The only matchup of two top-five teams this week will take place Tuesday, in Division II girls soccer. Two-time defending state champ Caravel, which is ranked second in the preseason, will open its season at No. 3 Archmere at 3:45 p.m.
There are a couple of interesting scheduling notes. The top-ranked Salesianum lacrosse team has only three in-state opponents (St. Mark’s, Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney) among its 14 games. And the second-ranked Caravel baseball team will play 12 of its first 13 games at home, before hitting the road for all of its last five games.
Rounding it up
— Host Cape Henlopen, Smyrna, Appoquinimink and Sanford have been announced as the Delaware teams invited to participate in the third annual Slam Dunk to the Beach boys basketball showcase, to be held Dec. 27-29. Three-day tournament passes are on sale for a reduced price of $45 at www.slamdunktothebeach/tickets/ through May 1.
— A.I. du Pont is seeking a head coach for field hockey. Send resumes to athletic director Mark Alley at firstname.lastname@example.org by noon April 8.
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ