East Haven SportsBeat: Coaching Legends, Part II

A special addition to the top 10 legendary coaches in Fairfield and New Haven counties.

[Note: Want your photos and/or write-ups from East Haven youth or recreational sports in featured on East Haven Patch? ]

Picking ais never easy when you have a state filled with teriffic leaders. With the help of our Patch readers, we present a special "addition" to the original list.

DAVE STRONG (Masuk) at and retired last March as Connecticut's all-time winningest coach in girls basketball. He complied a spectacular record of 704-156, capturing three state and 19 league titles along the way. During the 1993-1994 season, Masuk won 50 consecutive games, and from 1993-97, Strong led the school to 93 straight regular-season victories. He is a member of the National High School Association Hall of Fame.

TERRY LOWE (Greenwich) Lowe arrived at in 1967 and built not one, but two dynasties for the Cardinals. As the boys swimming coach, Lowe has led Greenwich to 40 of the last 41 FCIAC titles and they have won 19 consecutive Class LL state championships. Lowe also doubles as the water polo coach, guiding the Cardinals to more than 700 victories.

EARL LAVERY (Fairfield Prep) Lavery is one of the best coaches in the history of Connecticut, period. He took over the football program at Fairfield Prep in 1956 and led the Jesuits to an astonishing 230-54-8 record before retiring in 1992. A member of nearly every Hall of Fame in Connecticut, Lavery led to three state championships.

RALPH DESANTIS (Bethel) DeSantis was a standout football player at under legendary coach Copper Crotty, but he made his own mark in the coaching profession. After a stint at , DeSantis took over at and led the school to a 149-55-6 record. Under his guidance, Bethel captured five conference championships and four Briggs division titles. He passed away in 1993 and during that same year, Bethel named the football field in DeSantis' honor.

HOWARD BENEDICT (New Canaan) Benedict was hired in 1973 by to build a lacrosse program and he constucted a dominant one. During his 34 years on the sidelines, Benedict guided the Rams to eight state and seven FCIAC titles. He is considered one of the founding fathers of Connecticut lacrosse. He won several national coach of the year honors before being unceremoniously dumped by the administration in 2007.

JACK CASAGRANDE (Brien McMahon) A true legend in Norwalk, Casagrande made his mark in football and wrestling at . After 13 years as an assistant football coach, Casagrande who passed away two years ago, took over the Senators in 1974 and led them to a 78-45-5 mark and two FCIAC championships during his 13-years as head coach. "Big Jack", as he was known, also coached the Senators wrestling team for 22 years,  racking up four FCIAC and two state championships. Casagrande complied a record of 211-105-4 as the team's coach.

ALBIE LOEFFLER (Staples) Loeffler arrived at in 1952 and quickly established himself as a leader at the Westport-based school. He coached basketball for 12 years and baseball for 11 years. In 1958, Loeffler founded the soccer program and built it into a perennial power. In his 20 years guiding the Wreckers, Loeffler led them to 13 FCIAC and seven state championships. He retired with a national high school record 314 wins. Loeffler is a member of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame as a coach and the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame as an official. He passed away at the age of 93 in 2009.

LAURIE LARUSSO (Darien) If you crossed paths with the coach of the volleyball programs, you'd never know that is one of the best coaches in the country. She doesn't give many interviews, instead, deferring to her team captains most of the time. LaRusso has a sterling resume that includes 17 FCIAC and 15 State championships. She has won multiple national coach of the year honors.

RON CARBONE (Hamden) Before accepting the head coaching position at Hamden Hall Country Day School in 2007, Carbone spent 24 years coaching at Ansonia, Derby, and Hamden. He compiled a record of 159-62 and won 17 conference titles. Carbone was inducted into the Connecticut High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006. Also a member of the Hall of Fame.

LOU MARINELLI (New Canaan) in 1981 that had been the laughingstock of the FCIAC and quickly built it into a powerhouse. In 31 seasons, Marinelli has guided the Rams to eight state championships and four FCIAC titles. He has an overall record at New Canaan of 255-86-6 and should become the all-time winningest football coach in state history before he retires. Marinelli was inducted into the Connecticut High School Hall of Fame in 2009.


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