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Palazzi Steps Down As LHS Head Coach

November 22, 2018

LEOMINSTER -- With Leominster’s 36-0 win over Fitchburg Wednesday night, the proverbial clock has struck 12 on LHS head coach Dave Palazzi’s career in that role.

Named the new athletic director on Granite Street back in June, one of the provisos of his promotion was that Palazzi would have to step back from the football role, like he has with girls’ basketball: Rusty Frederick will lead the Blue Devil girls starting Monday afternoon.

And now, the search for a new head football coach for Big Blue begins.

“We’re looking for someone to take over,” Palazzi said last week.

A 1984 Leominster High School graduate, Palazzi took over the football program in early 2011 following a successful stint at Millbury High School. His first season in charge saw LHS start out 0-3, but then rip off eight straight wins to reach Gillette Stadium and knock off St. John’s in the Super Bowl.

Leominster won Central Mass. again in 2012, then fell in the title game to St. John’s in 2013 and Fitchburg in 2014, before losing to St. John’s in the 2015 semifinals.

Since then, Leominster has not made the postseason. The Blue Devils Wednesday night’s Fitchburg-Leominster Thanksgiving Eve battle at 4-6.

Palazzi said last week that he hasn’t given much thought to stepping away from the sidelines.

“Yeah, I haven’t really thought about it like that because I’m so busy (as the athletic director), but it’s an emotional game, Fitchburg and Leominster. As it gets a little closer, I’m sure the realization that I won’t be involved in The Rivalry as a head coach will affect me a little more than usual,” he said.

He will, however, be a part of the search committee to hire his replacement.

“As the athletic director, I will have a role in that search,” he said. ”(Principal Steve Dubzinski) and I have discussed it along with the Advisory Committee; I’m sure we’ll vet the candidates and we’ll find one who is best for Leominster High School.”

And what will the committee look for in a prospective coach to take over such a high-profile gig?

“What I’m looking for,” Palazzi said, “is someone who can stand tall within this program and run a program such as Leominster High School football. A lot with the history behind it: It’s a Division 1 program, it’s a pretty big program in Central Mass., and I want somebody that obviously knows the X’s and O’s, knows how to deal with the kids, and there’s a lot of pressure that comes with the job. I don’t think anyone will go against that thought, but we’re trying to find someone who we feel might fit in with what we’re trying to do, someone who will continue to organize our program and try different things aside from what I’ve been doing. Someone who will be a great leader, someone who will be a role model, someone who will be involved in the community, someone who is going to work with our student-athletes, make sure they are doing what they have to do in school -- it’s a long list.

“You can see why we didn’t want to rush into it, because there’s more to the program than just showing up on Friday night and coaching football. Any high school coach would agree that’s not the job. There’s more to it than that.”

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