Fitch names 2005 grad Panucci as next coach

New Fitch coach Jordan Panucci (Norwich Bulletin)

New Fitch coach Jordan Panucci (Norwich Bulletin)

In a recent trend of hiring younger and younger head football coaches, Fitch just trumped everyone.

The Day of New London reported this week that the school hired 26-year old alumnus Jordan Panucci, making him the youngest of the new hires this offseason.

Panucci, a history teacher and Groton Parks and Rec employee, has spent five years in the program, according to The Day. He worked primarily as the team’s strength and conditioning coach, but helped coach the defense.

Panucci was an offensive guard and captain at Fitch and played for both Mike Emery, who retired this offseason, and Ledyard’s Jim Buonocore when he previously coached the Falcons.

“I was surprised,” Panucci told the Norwich Bulletin. “I run the offseason stuff and I’m with the kids every day. I have time management down, and I know what it’s going to take.”

At 26, Panucci is easily the youngest hire of the offseason, beating Maloney hire Pierce Brennan’s 28 years on this pebble. Branford hired 29-year old John Limone earlier this year.

New Bunnell coach Doug Cotto is 30. Cheshire’s Don Drust, who coached last year under an interim tag, is 31. Stamford’s Jamar Greene,  Bacon Academy’s Erik Larka, Ellington/Somer’s Sean Byrne, Trinity Catholic’s Donny Panapada and Torrington’s Gaetan Rodriguez are all in their 30s.

His hire brings the statewide coaching vacancy down to eight.



  • East Haven
  • Ludlowe
  • Notre Dame-Fairfield
  • Rockville
  • St. Bernard/Norwich Tech
  • Woodstock Academy
  • Wilby
  • Old Saybrook
Sean Patrick Bowley

12 Responses

  1. ciacfollower says:

    I really dont know anything about Jordan, but just looking at this pic alone, I get the feeling he’s going to do well. He’s got that calm but tenacious look to him…Kind of like a young Larry Ciotti, who was approx. the same age when Hand hired him in ’70.

  2. Ballfoot says:

    There had to be more people going after this job with way more coaching knowledge. This coach is a strength and conditioning, defensive helping out coach. It looks more and more, that if your a teacher your hired no matter what. Is this really good for our kids?

  3. Mike says:

    What does age have to do with knowledge? Wouldn’t you say a 22 year old, fresh out of playing four years of D1 ball competitively, would be pretty well-suited to be a head coach in high school?

    And the latter comment Ballfoot, just think for a second. How many jobs in this state right now, that one can support a family on, do you know of, are over and done with by 1:30-2 PM? That also afford you the chance to get to a school by 2 PM for study halls/weightroom/general start of practice? Name them. So, naturally, teacher is the best option available.

    Now, with that being said, if the applicant has a steady job, then great. But, many don’t, so the decision to choose a coach also depends on stability. How could Fitch, or any school, hire a coach who is also currently trying to land a position someplace? If they hire him, and he can’t get a job and has a family, he may have to decline the job last minute, hoping to land a job in the next few months.

    And, as a coaching applicant myself, I can also speak on the fact that the majority of places I have applied, and been considered as a finalist, take this fact into consideration, as well as what they can do for you. 90% of schools I have been considered for, would not guarantee a teaching/any other job within the school if you didn’t currently have one.

    If you are single, with no obligations regarding kids, wives, etc, then you could probably make ends meet. But,for others, $5000/year probably will not cut it when you’re working just high school football.

    TRUST ME, as a teacher, and applicant at a large number of schools myself, with over 5 years of experience as a Coordinator/Head Coach of JV programs included, and multiple years of administrative experience, you are not hired NO MATTER WHAT as a teacher. As a teacher, and somebody who knows the game, definitively, I take offense to your insinuations, that 1) teachers don’t know football, 2) assistant coaches/strength & conditioning coordinators don’t know football, 3) if you’re young, you can’t coach/be a head coach and the worst of all, 4) the kids wouldn’t benefit from a person like Jordan.

    I don’t know Jordan, never met him, and in fact I have worked at schools all across the rest of the state. But, I know the process, and know commenters like you well enough to know that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and quite frankly, YOU are the problem when it comes to parental/outside influence on school districts.

    Remember, this is high school football in Connecticut. For the majority, we are TEACHING and MENTORING 99% of our athletes to be better people, on and off the field. To get into college or the workforce and be prepared to succeed. If Jordan, or any other new hire, can do that; can earn players/parents trust, especially being in a program for multiple seasons consecutively, and make these student-athletes better people, then he is exactly what Fitch needs.

    What Jordan, and other new hires, and coaches across the state don’t need, are football “know-it-alls” complaining about school districts and that they didn’t hire Tom Coughlin to run the program. In my experience, schools that hire younger coaches, who are stable with a family and a secure job (mostly teachers), are successful, much earlier, than a team with a coach traveling in after school from some other type of job, not around the kids all day. Today’s players need coaches IN THE BUILDING, whether that be a teacher, para, or whatever else can be arranged.

    Once schools begin to realize that, they will have less turnover and people moving around to other jobs, mostly because they teach or reside in those other school districts.

  4. mike says:

    This hire is a joke. There’s no way on earth this guy has a clue as to how to prepare a game plane, practice plan, in game adjustments, etc. I guess no one else wanted the job. Same thing happened in Stamford.

  5. Pat McGroin says:

    @Mike – NO, a 22 year old right out of a D1 program is not suitable to be a HC – not a chance, no way, no how. Coaching and Playing are two entirely different things. And if you actually believe that it’s the same you’re out of your mind.

    Can a 22 year old deal with parents, school board, players at all levels, practice plan, game plan, off-season plan, budget plan, fundraising, get a good coaching staff? Sure maybe the rare ones – definitely not the typical 22 year old.

  6. oldschool says:

    another job that will be open in the next 3 years. it’s a rough climate out there with crazy parents, non supportive school administrations, ect… problem is most of the older guys are either settled in to good coaching jobs or don’t want to be bothered with it anymore. fitch is a good job; i’m surprise they didn’t land a big name.

  7. Ballfoot says:

    Thank god nobody has hired you mike

  8. SJ Alum says:

    word is that steve christy has become the frosh coach at masuk… will most likely assist on offense as well.

  9. Ballfoot says:

    I really doubt a freshmen coach will assist in offense and who really cares its freshmen football

  10. rock85 says:

    Does ND-Fairfield have a coach yet?

  11. Ballfoot says:

    word out is Rico is making a comeback at ND

  12. Christy Fan says:

    Steve Christy should go to ND. He would turn that program around. He could also recruit all his youth players to join him.