Dave Mastroianni coaches Tigers to state title

Dave Mastroianni never hesitated when the first-year Daniel Hand head football coach was asked how it felt to bring the Tigers their first state title since 2012 with a 35-21 victory over Masuk High on Monday night.

“They righted the ship,” said the former Foran High star of his players celebrating around him at Trumbull High’s McDougall Stadium. “It was all hands on deck and our kids got after it.

“I’ve been saying it all year, I think we are the best defense in the state. We proved it again. We shut down a heckuva offense, a team that had been lighting people up.

“To tell me we’d hold Masuk to no first downs for most of the first half, I don’t think we prepared for it that well. But our kids got after it and we had answers for what they did. We forced them to execute perfectly and they weren’t able to do it consistently.”

“They did a great job,” Masuk coach Joe Lato said. “What a first year Coach Mastroianni had. Congratulations to him and his staff.”

Mastroianni went on to play at Columbia University, before returning to Connecticut and began coaching with Fillipone at Hand in 2007. He became the defensive coordinator in 2009.

After Fillipone stepped down with seven state titles to his credit, Mastroianni was named only the team’s third head coach. Larry Ciotti started the program in 1971 and won four state titles.

The state title was the 12th for Hand, which defeated Windsor 23-6 in 2012.

Prior to meeting with the media after his team improved to 12-1, Mastroianni hugged it out with his father Dave and step dad Tony Catapano.

He wasn’t as quick to respond when asked about those moments.

“I wanted to make my family proud,” Mastrianni said after composing himself. “If I’m not making my family proud than I’m not doing anything. My mom (Tyyné) who passed away in 2016) was here, like she is with me every day. That’s what I tell my team, we are a family.”