WALL TOWNSHIP– Nine assistant coaching positions in the Wall High School football program received approval from the district during the Board of Education meeting on July 19.
The Wall High School football program now includes 11 paid coaching positions, three more than the 2021 season. With all the new positions, the cost for the district in compensation to the coaching staff totals $64,834.
The assistant coaches hired are Justin Fumando, Thomas Gallahue, Michael Kinsella, Peter Ottaviano, Victor Rivera, Christopher Rogers, Daniel Shine, Andrew Silwoski, Raymond Smith and Joseph Tetley.
Two of the nine men listed as assistant coaches for the 2022 season — Victor Rivera and Daniel Shine — were former freshman supervisors with the program; neither were previously varsity coaches.
The district now looks forward to the 2022 season, after last year’s season abruptly ended with the cancellation of a playoff game in November, 2021, against Delsea High School during the onset of a hazing investigation.
Due to the hazing investigation, several coaches and staff were put on leave in Nov. of 2021, including former Head Coach Tony Grandinetti and former Athletic Director Thomas Ridoux.
Mr. Grandinetti guided the Crimson Knights to a 36-14 record over five seasons with Wall. The Crimson Knights won the Group III title under Mr. Grandinetti during the 2019 season and finished with a perfect record of 7-0 and the number one ranking in the Shore Conference during the coronavirus shortened season in 2020.
Coaching staff changes
In January, Wall Township public schools hired former Manalapan football head coach Ed Gurrieri to oversee the Wall football program next fall, replacing Mr. Grandinetti.
The new head coach, Mr. Gurrieri, saw much success coaching in Manalapan, where he established the Braves as a Shore Conference power and won the sectional title in 2014. Mr. Gurrieri coached at Manalapan for 13 seasons, his last coming in 2019 when the Braves went 6-4 in his final season, reaching the Central Jersey Group V semifinal.
Mr. Gurrieri announced he was stepping down from coaching Manalapan in June of 2020; he accumulated 109 wins coaching the Braves. The Crimson Knights will play Mr. Gurrieri’s old school, Manalapan on Oct. 21.
In November, Athletic Director Ridoux was placed on administrative leave by the school district. Wall BOE approved the hiring of former Sayreville Athletic Director Nicholas Pizzulli in December, at a rate of $600 per day, to serve as interim athletic director through June.
In June, the Board of Education voted unanimously to transfer Mr. Ridoux to Wall Intermediate School as assistant vice principal.
Also in June, the BOE unanimously approved the hiring of a new athletic director, Marni Henry Parks, who headed athletic programs, as well as physical and health education, at Hammonton High School. Her appointment was at an annual salary of $155,000.
On Wall’s hazing incident and the juvenile criminal charges brought against several members of the varsity football team, Ms. Parks told The Coast Star in June, “Obviously, this has been a very trying time … I’m coming in, and my job as an athletic administrator is the same with or without that situation. The safety and well-being of those kids are paramount.
“So it’s my job and responsibility to set up the athletic department with the student-athletes and coaches so that, number one, these kids have a safe place to compete and learn. I’m not changing anything that I do. I’m just forcing, encouraging, and supporting the things that make an athletic department successful,” she said.
New locker room protocol
The new coaching staff must adhere to new procedures laid out by the BOE when they added a provision to union contracts on Feb. 24, which created locker room supervisor positions at a projected annual cost of $15,000.
According to the provision, staff members designated as locker-room/team-room supervisors will be responsible for opening and closing the Wall High School locker rooms each day and will receive $25 per hour for the extra work.
The Crimson Knights will open the season at home against Red Bank Catholic on Sept. 9. Wall will play in the American Division with Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven, Donovan Catholic, Middletown South and Manalapan.
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