Marce Petroccio is proving you can indeed go home again.
In a widely speculated move, Petroccio, after 25 years as Staples’ football coach, informed his players this morning that he was leaving to take the job at Trumbull, his alma mater, where he played for legendary coach Jerry McDougall.
Petroccio, who was thought to have the inside track if he was willing to make the move, accepted the position last night at about 9.
“I’ve been offered other college and high school jobs and this is the only one I would leave for,” said Petroccio, who resided in Trumbull for 38 years and moved to Ridgefield several years ago. “I never thought I would have the opportunity. After a lot of soul-searching and talking with my wife and daughters, I made the decision.”
Petroccio graduated from Trumbull in 1978, months after playing tight end for the Eagles’ first team to win a state title under McDougall, who was always a mentor until his death in 2011.
Petroccio resurrected a Staples program that had fallen on hard times — known then in the fall as “a soccer school” — and was consistently at the bottom of the standings and going through a cycle of coaches when he was hired. He leaves with 210 wins, five FCIAC and three straight state titles.
GameTime CT first reported the story this morning.
The 56-year-old Petroccio is just the fourth coach in Trumbull’s history. He replaces Bob Maffei, who stepped down after a season in which the Eagles finished 3-7. They last won the FCIAC title in 2006 and a state championship under McDougall in 1986.
Trumbull athletic director Mike King said there were about 40 applicants for the position. He would not confirm talk last week that Petroccio was one of two finalists.
“I think his resume and football accomplishments speak for themselves and put him in an elite atmosphere,” King said. “You put his history with the community, growing up here and it makes him the perfect fit. And Marce knows the FCIAC as well as anybody.”
Staples athletic director Marty Lisevick sounded crestfallen after hearing the news. He joined Petroccio as he spoke with his players.
“He’s one of my best friends, I’ve known him for 18 years here. I told him this morning that I drive an hour and a half down and an hour and a half here and you’re one of the main reasons I do it,” said Lisevick, who lives in Simsbury. “It hurts. We spoke to the kids and I’m not going to lie there was a lot of tearing up. He’s a good friend, he explained it to me this morning that he was going home and there was nothing I can do to change his mind. I completely understand where he’s coming from but there’s no question that I’m pretty broken up.”
Petroccio said the excitement of returning to his old school was tempered by his love for Staples.
“I’ve had a great 25 years here,” he said. “The people here have been incredible, my players have been incredible, the administration has been incredible. It’s very, very difficult and the emotions get to me. People in the community here treated me as gold. In the end I decided to take a chance and move on to my alma mater.”
Petroccio is expected to have a teaching position next year as well at Trumbull, though nothing has been officially announced. He will be introduced to the Trumbull parents and booster club on Friday night.
Petroccio’s first game with the Eagles will be at Greenwich, which lost to Darien in the Class LL final and could possibly the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason poll.
Petroccio said he is excited to start working with the Eagles. He will have a far greater infrastructure than when he took over at Staples.
“They struggled last year but I haven’t met the players yet or toured the facility,” Petroccio said. “We’re going to work hard, the kids are going to work hard and give everything to get the same as we did here at Staples.”