A high school football coach in New Jersey is being fired in the middle of a season because of longstanding "philosophical differences" with the rest of his school's athletic department. While that might not necessarily be shocking news, the conditions around his departure are pretty surprising: Richland (N.J.) St. Augustine Prep coach Dennis Scuderi will get to coach one final game on Friday … against Agsegami (N.J.) High, a team coached by his son, who is also named Dennis Scuderi.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Press of Atlantic City, among other sources, the elder Scuderi was fired on Thursday after the school announced that its leadership and Scuderi had reached a "philosophical impasse." The move came as a significant surprise, as Scuderi has been widely praised for rebuilding a struggling program at St. Augustine and turn a perennial also-ran into an annual playoff contender.
"I guess I got fired for winning," Scuderi told the Inquirer. "Before I got there, they couldn't win a football game.
"I just feel like it's very unjust that they didn't let us finish the season."
Scuderi isn't alone in that assessment, as six of the coach's assistants will also allegedly walk away from the program following Friday's game. Naturally, the fact that it comes against a team being led for the first time by Scuderi's son -- a former Rutgers assistant -- only adds an extra level of hype on a game that already has plenty of import as a longtime coach's last game.
The younger Scuderi has yet to officially comment on his father's dismissal, though that is likely to change after the two programs' game concludes.
"We thought about what was the best way to provide stability for the program at this point," Iaconelli told the Atlantic City Press. "The search for a new coach can start right now. I didn't think it was fair to Dennis to make him a lame duck."
Unsurprisingly, that wasn't the way Scuderi saw the scenario as it unfolded.
"I think they wanted me to resign," Scuderi told the Press. "I said I wasn't going to resign. I'm not a quitter. I'm not going to quit on the kids."