Literally four days away from the first official practice of the 2007 season, we received some relatively surprising news out of New Haven football land.
Tom Dyer has been tapped to replace Eric Barbarito as the head coach of the defending Class M champion Hillhouse Academics.
Everyone knows there’s been a coaching carousel over in the Elm City in the last eight months.
Dennis Wanzie is dismissed at Wilbur Cross, Hyde’s John Acquavita shuffles over to replace him. That was back in the spring.
At the same time, Hillhouse offensive coordinator Joe Stochmal confirmed he was the new man in charge at Oxford, followed by rumors that Barbarito would be stepping down to take the assistant principal job at the school.
Once Acquavita was confirmed at Cross, Dyer’s name made the rounds to replace Barbarito… until the rumors came back again that Barbarito had not become the assistant principal.
So as the fall season inched inexorably closer, that appeared to be that.
Then, on Aug. 16, this advertisement for assistant coaches immediately popped up on the CIAC’s website. One afternoon call to Dyer, who was talking to his team, confirmed the ad’s message. Barbarito got the assistant principal job. Dyer, 28, had taken over.
Barbarito took over a down-trodden program in 1997 and coached for 10 years, finishing with a record of 59-47-4. Hillhouse was 6-25 in his first three seasons, but reached three state championship games in the 2000s and won two, including last year’s Class M championship over Windham.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Dyer has a pretty big office to fill, and with very little time to prepare.
Hillhouse, which went 12-1 last season, lost all but a few of its starters from last year’s team that whupped up on Windham, 28-6. So at least Dyer can take the new players and mold it into his style. The bigger question is, how long will the rebuilding process take?