The Clark Board of Education unanimously approved Mike Mancino to replace former head football coach Nick Gregorio, whose contract was not renewed this year. The BOE convened a special meeting on Thursday afternoon to vote on the decision, approving Mancino, a Johnson football assistant coach and Johnson head softball coach, for the position.
"We're ecstatic about this decision," said Johnson Athletic Director Gus Kalikas. "Mike's been part of the program since 1993, and he's been part of two state championships and five conference championships."
During his first stint at Johnson in 1993, Mancino was an assistant varsity football coach for three years. He left Johnson in 1995 and coached Division II basketball at Bloomfield College for seven years (four as head coach), before entering the Alternate Route program and receiving his teaching degree. Mancino returned to Johnson in 2001, teaching math and coaching. As an assistant football coach since his return, Mancino has acted as both offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator.
When reflecting on last season, Mancino says, "At times we overachieved and at times we underachieved. We were a bit inconsistent. We had some injuries, too." This year he's excited to have a solid set of seniors returning to the team.
"My priorities are that I want to have a team of good citizens and quality young men and I want them to do well academically," says Mancino. "Playing-wise, I want us to return to the tough, physical, hard-nose brand of football that the school has been known for for the past 20 years." Mancino will also continue to coach Johnson softball.
Mancino acknowledges the controversy surrounding the school's decision to not rehire Gregorio. "I think the hiccup here with the coaching change did affect the team a little," says Mancino. "But they're resilient and most of the staff is coming back intact. Nick's a friend first and I wish him well. I know he's going to bounce back."
Consistency has been an issue that parents brought up when the Gregorio decision was announced, as many of this year's senior players will have seen three different head coaches in their four years on varsity. "Consistency is definitely a concern," says Mancino. "The seniors are a big priority right off the bat. I'm letting them know this year is their year."
Mancino lives in Warren with his wife Christina and children Michael, 4, and Alexandra, 2. He grew up in Kenilworth and graduated from Brearley High School, where he played football, before attending North Carolina Wesleyan College and New Jersey City University, where he played baseball.
Several other candidates were interviewed for the head coach position. Also approved at Thursday's BOE meeting were assistant football coach positions for Daniel Guyton, Carmen Scuderi, Christopher Drechsel and Steven Barry.