Trumbull Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gary Cialfi dialed the number; Marce Petroccio picked up on the other end.
Last night’s phone conversation between the pair may have been brief, but the message was clear — Petroccio was returning to Trumbull High football, this time as the head coach.
“When I got that call I was ecstatic,” said Petroccio, who was an assistant coach to Jerry McDougall at Trumbull before taking the head coaching position at Staples in 1993. “It is a great opportunity for me, and as I told Dr. Cialfi I couldn’t be happier.”
In his 25 seasons, Petroccio led the Wreckers to three state titles, five FCIAC crowns and 210 victories.
“Once the word got out after Bobby Maffei retired last November after twenty years with us, (Athletic Director) Mike King and I felt all along that Marce might be the guy we could get to come home,” Cialfi said after announcing the hire on Wednesday afternoon. “Marce and Bobby were both proteges of Jerry McDougall. Marce was excited about the prospect and the feeling was mutual.”
Petroccio spoke with his Staples players on Wednesday, before the hiring was announced.
“Westport has been great to me all these years,” he said. “The only place I would leave it for was Trumbull. It is a bittersweet day for me, but I’m also excited to get going.
“For me to have the opportunity to walk the hallways I did as a student, and walk the sideline where Coach McDougall walked, well you can’t put a price on that.”
Sixty coaches inquired about filling the position.
“I was very happy when Coach Petroccio called and said he was interested,” King said. “His reputation, his coaching ability, his connection to this town made it a perfect fit.”
Trumbull is coming off a 2-7 season, while Staples went 6-4.
“We believe that this is one of the top coaching positions in the state,” Cialfi said. “The educators in town believe that Marce is the person to lead this team forward and help it to be a success on and off the playing field.”
The process wasn’t easy. After the candidates sent in paperwork to the Human Resources Department, the first of two selection committees went through a paper screening to set up the interview process.
“The first committee looking into filling the position consisted of Trumbull High Principal Marc Guarino, Mike King, Kim Lombardi, who is the president of the Touchdown Club, a player from the team, THS trainer Dan Searles, and a member of the coaching staff,” Cialfi said.
“Once we got it down to two unanimous finalists, I met with Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael McGrath, a member from the Board of Education, a person from the community, Mike King and former Athletic Director Mike Herbst.
“We wanted to make sure we were seeing and hearing things from all sides.
“Marce Petroccio was our choice.
“Because it’s not baseball, it might not be a home run but we think it is certainly a touchdown (hire) for us.”