... but NL moves quickly and hires Bacon's Maranda as successor
Duane Maranda has gone from a school that has only been playing varsity football since 2000 to one of the most storied high school programs in Connecticut.
Maranda, 38, resigned after six seasons as head football coach at Bacon Academy on Wednesday to accept the same position at New London.
He replaces Jeff Larson, who is leaving after three years to take an administrative position at Hartford Classical. Larson was also New London's athletic director.
"A school with the tradition of New London is everything a coach could ask for," Maranda said. "The way the community rallies behind and supports the football program is amazing ... it's all about being a Whaler and wearing the green and gold.
"Every coach dreams of coaching at a school like that. It's a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I'm excited about coaching these kids and I'm excited about working with Tommie Major, Juan Roman and others on Jeff's staff ... they're New London institutions."
Maranda, a 1991 East Lyme graduate, has been a head coach for the last nine seasons, three at St. Bernard/Norwich Tech and the last six at Bacon.
He is also working toward his Master's degree in athletic administration while holding down a full-time job with the East Hartford Fire Department for 16 years.
"The guys I work with are great and very supportive," Maranda said. "I work a lot in the spring and summer so that I have more time in the fall.
"They allow me a lot of time to do what I love to do, which is coach, and I'm very thankful for that. I will be in school all the time to help support my players. The kids in New London won't know the difference."
Maranda met with players and coaches at Bacon early Wednesday evening, saying later, "It was bittersweet because I've put so much blood, sweat and tears into that place. Things were falling into place, too, with a great group of kids who I know are ready to take off. That's what makes it so hard."
But the lure of New London was just too good to pass up.
"I want to continue a tradition that's been at New London forever," Maranda said. "Our goal every year is to win a state championship. That's not going to change. My goal is to bring more banners to New London."
Maranda plans to meet with the coaching staff within the next 48 hours and then will schedule a meeting with his new players.
"We have to get together as a staff, talk about personnel, and I need to pick their brains," he said. "We'll work it all out, and we have to, because Aug. 15 (the first day of practice) is coming up quickly.
"I was hired in July at Bacon, too, so I know what has to be done."
His first game at Bacon was against Killingly, the same school the Whalers play in the season-opener at home on Friday, Sept. 15.
"He's been a big part of our community and our school and our football program for the last six years," Bacon athletic director Kevin Burke said.
"We're going to miss him. We wish him well in his next position, and we'll go and fill it (the coaching position) and go from there.
"He was great for us, and he'll still be a big part of our community."
Maranda lives in Colchester with his wife Carrie and three children - daughters Taylor (19) and Alison (3) and son Danny (15).
The Marandas will become parents again in October, although Duane, ever the coach, said, "All I know is Carrie has to have the baby on a Monday."