Darien’s Rob Trifone named Hearst Connecticut Media Super 33 Football Coach of the Year
DARIEN — During his historic 2015 football season, Darien coach Rob Trifone remarked he has the best job in the world.
As a teacher at Darien High School, Trifone has the rare opportunity both to mold minds in the classroom as well as on the gridiron; something he has done with great success.
After completing a remarkable undefeated season in which the Blue Wave won the FCIAC and Class LL titles, Trifone has been named Hearst Connecticut Media’s Super 33 Football Coach of the Year.
The honor comes a week after the Walter Camp Foundation named Trifone the state’s coach of the year.
“Starting with the Walter Camp one, that’s a special one because that’s a foundation that’s been around for a while and it’s voted on by your peers so it was quite an honor,” said Trifone, who also recorded his 200th career win in 2015. “You’re only as good as your arms and your legs; your arms are your players and your legs are your assistants and I say time and time again, I have phenomenal players and wonderful assistants and there’s no way you get honors like this without that.”
Those players included his twin sons, Bobby and Christian, as well as the likes of Hudson Hamill, Timmy Graham, Shelby Grant, Colin Minicus and Hearst Connecticut Media’s MVP Mark Evanchick, all of whom he has coached since they were third-graders playing in the Darien Junior Football League.
Because of the success on the field, and the bond with the players off it, Trifone says 2015 is the most special of his 37 years as a football coach.
“How many times in your career do you get to go undefeated and be the No. 1 team in the state, and how many times do you get to coach a group of boys that you’ve known since they were 8 years old?” Trifone said. “Not only my sons but all of those boys, Hudson and Timmy and Shelby and Colin and Mark, the list just goes on and on and I still think to this day, had we not coached them since third grade we would have lost some here or there. There’s always a reason that someone leaves a program and we had none of that and they stuck with it so it’s very special.”
Hamill, said winning was not only special to the team, but as a sense of pride to raise Trifone into the upper echelon of coaching.
“Coach Trifone is the best there is when it comes to motivating his players,” said Hamill, who played offense, defense and special teams. “He saw the potential in our class and trusted us every step of the way, leading us to the state championship. This state championship meant a lot to all of us to put Darien on top but it was also special to put Coach T on top after all that he has done for us.”
Another less likely source of pride came from an opponent in Staples coach Marce Petroccio, someone who has been around the FCIAC and Trifone for more than two decades.
“I thought coach Trifone did a tremendous job this year, not only in his coaching ability, which has always been fantastic in my 24 years in the league, but his preparation with his team and the way the handle the press,” Petroccio said. “I think that’s all part of it. I couldn’t be happier for Rob and even more happy that an FCIAC team is No. 1 in Connecticut, and he and his staff deserve credit for an unbelievable job this year.”
Trifone’s Wave knocked off Staples twice in 2015; first to reach the FCIAC title game and then again in the state quarterfinals.
Only one team, No. 2 New Canaan, gave Darien a competitive game; a 28-21 Darien win in the Turkey Bowl for the Wave’s second consecutive FCIAC championship.
More impressively, Darien halted Southington’s 31-game win streak with a 49-7 drubbing in the state semifinals before taking down Shelton 39-7 to claim the Class LL crown in just the Blue Wave’s first year in that division.
Asked the seemingly obvious question if 2015’s team was the best he ever had, Trifone had one more that came to mind before giving his answer.
“I’d have to say yes,” Trifone said. “I’ve always chirped about my ’94 state championship McMahon team, but this team’s better, this team is more balanced. My ’94 sons are going to come after me like a lynch mob because they’ve always thought they were the best team ever and they were awfully good, just didn’t have the depth and the balance that this team had.”
But it isn’t just about accolades and trophies for Trifone. Anyone who has come across the coach knows he’ll accommodate anyone for the betterment of the program, whether it be the press, family members or a friend of the school. Trifone does everything he can to make sure the brand that is Darien football carries as much weight as possible.
“Over the last month I’ve walked around town and been shopping with my wife and people come out of every aisle,” Trifone said of fans that he sometimes doesn’t even know. “They just say they’re so proud and it’s kind of a small-town feeling is what it generates and it’s interesting because the football program has always done that here even back in the day when (former coach) Mike Sangster had some real big years being the pride of the town, so it’s back on the map and it feels great.”
It should — he’s earned it.