ConVal football coach dismissed

  • Former ConVal football coach Steve Bartsch is returning to the sidelines after being named interim coach. File photo

  • Ray Puglisi was dismissed as ConVal head coach Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 27, 2018 10:34AM

Just four games into the season, and there’s been a coaching change for the ConVal varsity football program.

After Friday night’s homecoming game against Alvirne, Ray Puglisi was dismissed as the varsity head coach in his first season in the role.

According to ConVal Athletic Director John Reitnauer, “Over the past few weeks, the administration and athletic director have learned of significant concerns regarding the coaching of our athletes. Based on those concerns and others expressed by the players themselves, we have developed a plan to change course and provide a more positive experience for the players during the remainder of the football season.

“Specifically, we will be naming coach Stephen Bartsch as the interim head coach. He has years of experience, communicates effectively, and has a history of success. In addition, former coach Greg Leonard will serve as an experienced assistant coach,” Reitnauer wrote in a statement to the Ledger-Transcript Wednesday. Bartsch and Leonard have both served as head coach and assistants at ConVal.

School officials would not say what those concerns were.

Puglisi said he met with administration on a couple occasions over the last few weeks to address the concerns, “some I understood where they were coming from, others were head scratchers for me,” Puglisi said on Tuesday. Puglisi said he did not want to go into detail about nature of the conversations.

Following Friday’s 40-12 homecoming loss, Puglisi said he was made aware of the administration’s decision. “I just said ‘I don’t understand why?’” Puglisi said.

Last year, Puglisi was the junior varsity head coach and served on the varsity staff under Paul Landau. When Landau stepped down in the spring to take the athletic director’s job at Belmont, Puglisi said he continued to work with the players throughout the summer, not knowing who would be the next coach and if he would remain on staff.

“I didn’t want the kids to fall behind,” Puglisi said. Puglisi was officially hired as head coach Aug. 5, just prior to the start of fall practice.

It was less than ideal timing with so many key departures from last year and just six seniors coming back, but Puglisi said he was up for the challenge.

“From day one I knew it was going to be a tough situation,” Puglisi said.

The season began on a promising note with a 14-7 win at Kingswood in the opener. But things on the field have not gone so well for the Cougars since. ConVal has dropped three straight, including shutouts to rival Souhegan (13-0) and Hollis/Brookline (42-0), along with Friday’s loss.

But despite the results on the scoreboard, Puglisi was grateful for his team’s effort.

“I’m proud to know these players fought hard for every second of every game we played, and that’s all I can ask,” Puglisi said.

Despite the ending to his tenure, Puglisi said he wants to see the team finish out the season on a good note.

The Cougars are 1-3 heading into Friday night’s game at Manchester West.