By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — After decades of being on the sidelines, Dave Sollazzo will now sit in the stands and watch his son on the gridiron.
Sollazzo, 64, retired from his position as head football coach at Naugatuck High School in June to spend more time with and watch his son, Christopher, who will be a junior defensive lineman at Farmington High School.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Sollazzo said. “I really loved coaching the Greyhounds and I can’t thank the parents, the administrators and the entire town of Naugatuck enough for supporting me, my coaching staff and the kids the way they did.”
Sollazzo led the Greyhounds to a 23-9 mark over three seasons. He informed the players of his decision over a Zoom meeting June 22.
“Naugatuck football and the community will miss him,” Naugatuck athletic director Gianni Perugini said. “The program has established itself as one of the best in the league again and we thank him for that. After 40 years on the sidelines as a coach, he wanted to spend time in the stands as a dad. We want to wish him the best.”
Perugini said last week he would post the position soon.
Sollazzo played at The Citadel from 1973 to 1976. He was an assistant coach at his alma mater as well as Georgia Tech, Villanova, UMass and Maryland before coming to Naugatuck.
When Sollazzo first arrived in the borough, he sought to reestablish the tradition of Greyhound football. He brought in a pair of legendary coaches — former football coach Craig Peters and former boys soccer Art Nunes — to help do so.
“I knew going in that Naugatuck had a rich tradition and that is what I wanted to focus on,” Sollazzo said. “If you are going to be the best you need to surround yourself with the best, and both coaches have won league and state championships.”
Sollazzo built a strong coaching staff around him, including offensive coordinator Ollie Gray, defensive coordinator Kevin Cretella, line coach Scott Langenheim and special teams coach Brendan McWeeney.
“We have some excellent coaches that helped us to succeed,” Sollazzo said. “Ollie does a great job with the offense, and I did recommend him for the job.”
Naugatuck earned playoff berths in 2017 and 2018, finishing both years 9-2.
In 2017, the Greyhounds averaged 44 points per game. In 2018, Naugy posted six shutouts, blocked six blocked punts, and then-senior Elijah Robinson returned four kickoffs for touchdowns.
Naugatuck started last season 5-0 before injuries to key players threw a wrench in the plans. The Greyhounds lost the last five games to finish 5-5.
“We had a lot of fun over the past three years and had a lot of success,” Sollazzo said. “I was torn, but when it came down to it I wanted to be there for my son, Christopher, and watch him play. I will be down on a bye week to see Naugatuck. I know my son really enjoyed being around the players when I started three years ago and now it’s his turn.”
The Republican-American contributed to this article.