AVON, June 13 – After 35 years, Jeff Redman thought he had put coaching football behind him. He spent last fall enjoying the season – which meant going to see former players competing in college football and catching an occasional Avon High football game.
When September comes around, Redman will be back on the sideline again. He has been hired to be the new football coach at Avon High.
It will be his second stint as a head coach for the Falcons. He coached Avon for four years from 1995-98. He was also a head coach at The Gilbert School in Winsted for two years (1986-87). But most of his coaching career has been at Conard High in West Hartford as the defensive coordinator for 25 years under long-time coach Rob Cerosimo and then his son, Matt.
“I thought I was done,” Redman said. “I never thought I would get back into it. I had a good career with a very successful program at Conard.”
The Chieftains went to the CIAC playoffs six times in Redman’s career, including the 1987 Class L championship game with Conard dropping a 7-0 decision to West Haven.
Redman replaces Sal Cintorino, who resigned in May, after two years with the Falcons. He went 4-16 in two years with inexperienced teams. Avon was 1-9 in 2016 and improved to 3-7 last fall but they were physically overmatched in some games.
Cintorino was not pleased that the program lost a full-time coach last year that eliminated the freshman program. Freshman played with the junior varsity team. And that coach was not restored in this year’s budget.
However, a larger problem – a dwindling supply of players – had many freshman playing on the varsity team out of necessity.
In May, there were 28 players in grades 9-11 signed up to play football this fall, according to Avon High athletic director Tim Filon. The team expects several freshmen to join the program next fall but the school doesn’t have a definite number at this time.
Avon ended the season with 49 players on the roster last fall but 17 were seniors – leaving 32 underclassmen with the potential to return this fall. About 25 underclassmen attended a meeting with Redman on Monday.
“I told them three things,” Redman said. “You have to have fun. You have to be able to respect the game, play with integrity and the values that make you a better person. And you have learn and practice every day to be the best student athletic that you can be.”
One of the reasons that Cintorino stepped away is he an assistant chief administrative officer/Director of Facilities Management at Central Connecticut State in New Britain. Concerned about the low numbers, he isn’t on the Avon High campus enough to recruit players to the program. Cintorino coached Central Connecticut State for several years so recruiting to play football doesn’t faze him.
“To the right thing for the kids, there needed to be a change,” Cintorino said. “For that change, they really need someone in the building that can be recruiting kids every day. You need someone in the building to recruit from every classroom.”
Redman is a Wellness teacher (physical education, health) at Avon and has been a teacher in the Avon school system since 1995. And he is teaching in the high school.
“I am in the high school,” Redman said. “I can lead. If the kids buy into the values, so be it. We will take it one year at a time.”
Filon was pleased to hire Redman. “He has a tremendous football background with more than 30 years of experience at the varsity level,” Filon said. “Jeff is currently a Wellness teacher at Avon High, which is always a positive thing to have your head coach in the building.”
Cintorino leaves Avon with some fond memories. “I loved coaching the kids,” he said. “It wasn’t the kids or administration (why he left). It was a great experience. I appreciate the opportunity. There is an opportunity for success. But some things need to change for that to happen.”
The biggest challenge right now is attracting more players to the program. The Falcons are getting close to becoming eligible to co-op with another school. A program can’t have more than 32 players in grades 9-12 to participate in football co-op program.
But there are not any partners in the immediate area and the deadline to apply for a co-op program is in March. So the Falcons will persevere as they prepare for the 59th varsity season in school history.
“I don’t know how many players I will end up having,” Redman said. “There is an incoming class of freshmen. But as long as we have 11, we’ll be alright.
“I have too much care for the kids and the game (of football) to let (this program) die,” he said. “I wish there was some new, young coach here to turn this around but there isn’t. So, this is what we will do.”
“It’s all about (the players),” Redman said. “It’s not about me at all.”
Redman is still building a coaching staff. One of his three sons, Matthew, a teacher at Roaring Brook Elementary in town, will be on the staff as the freshman coach. Peter Bourquin is also set to return for another season. He coached with Cintorino a year ago.
The Falcons didn’t practice this spring and will begin on-the-field preparations for the 2018 campaign on August 13.
NOTES – Redman is 18-41-1 in six season as a head coach with Avon (1995-98) and Gilbert (1986-87). His best record came in 1997 when Avon went 6-5 in the Pequot Conference. Under Redman, the Falcons played two years in the now-defunct Nutmeg Conference with teams such as Farmington, Plainville, Middletown and East Catholic – teams currently in the Central Connecticut Conference with the Falcons. … Redman is the third Avon High to return for a second tour and lead the Falcons. Glenn McLellan coached for 25 years from 1966-91 before returning for a single season in 1994. …Tim Feshler coached two years (1992-93) before returning for another three-year stint in 2000-02. … Redman has three sons and all three are coaching football. Matthew will join the Falcon coaching staff. Michael Redman is an assistant coach with the New England Patriots while James, a teacher in West Hartford, is an assistant coach at Conard.