Monday, July 8, 2013
New England Roundup: Connecticut
By Roger Brown
The news surprised some and stunned others, but Jack is back.
Jack Cochran, one of the most successful -– and controversial -– high school football coaches Connecticut has ever seen, was hired as Harding High School's head coach in late June.
Harding, which is located in Bridgeport, hasn't posted a winning season since 1996 and is 9-91 during the last 10 years. It's Cochran's first job since he was the head coach at New London in 2008.
“It’s like a rebirth,” Cochran told the Connecticut Post. “It’s been a long three or four years and I’m excited to getting back to doing what I love: coaching kids.”
Cochran has also served as the head coach at Bloomfield and New Britain. His teams have made the playoffs 15 times in his 16 seasons, played for a state championship 14 times and won eight state titles. Cochran has a career coaching record to 160-24-2.
In 2007, while he was at New London, Cochran received a one-year suspension for a physical and verbal confrontation with an opposing coach during a weightlifting competition.
New London fired Cochran after Cochran's brief stint as the school's baseball coach resulted in CIAC sanctions and a three-year probation for Cochran. There have been illegal recruiting accusations as well, but Cochran may be best known as the coach who likes to run up the score.
Many feel the CIAC's score-management policy was put in place because of Cochran. The score-management policy allows for a head coach to be suspended if his team wins a game by more than 50 points. It was put in place one year after Cochran's New London team defeated Griswold 90-0, and is often referred to as “The Cochran Rule.”
Cochran's backers will point to the fact that 59 of his players have gone on to play at the Division I level, and the fact that he has a reputation for helping kids who are struggling in the classroom.
“We had a chance to hire arguably the best high school football coach in state,” said Neil Kavey, the athletic director for Bridgeport schools. “And when you have a program that has changed coaches as many times as (Harding) has in last few years, you know you need to take a shot with somebody with that skill and reputation.”
Cochran's son Casey was a quarterback on New London’s 2008 state championship team as a freshman and then transferred to Masuk, where he led the Panthers to the 2010 Class L championship. He now plays for the University of Connecticut.
Cochran became Harding's fourth coach in the last seven seasons. Harding's last winning season (7-4) came under Bill Cole in 1996.
BOYLE SHINES IN ALL-STAR GAME Xavier quarterback Tim Boyle ran for a touchdown and passed for another to help the National Guard defeat the Marines 15-14 in the first Military Bowl/Hall of Fame Classic played June 29 at the University of Connecticut's Rentschler Field.
Boyle, who will play for Connecticut this season, completed 12 of 14 pass attempts for 134 yards. He was intercepted twice. He also carried the ball three times for 16 yards.
Boyle originally committed to play for Boston College, but opted for Connecticut after BC hired Steve Addazio as its head coach. The game featured the top high school players in Connecticut who graduated earlier this year. Prior to this year, Connecticut played Rhode Island in a postseason all-star game.
PIZZOFERRATO RESIGNS Manchester found itself without a football coach when Marco Pizzoferrato resigned in early July. Manchester was 35-26 and failed to make the playoffs in Pizzoferrato's six seasons as head coach.
Pizzoferrato may be best known as the coach who turned in former Southington coach D.J. Hernandez for using a lost Manchester wrist band that listed the team's offensive plays during a 2010 game.
Manchester is one of 31 schools that will have a first-year head coach this season.
SAVIO SELECTS LOYOLA Former Greenwich lacrosse standout Graham Savio committed to Loyola University in late June. An All-American, Savio helped Greenwich reach the FCIAC semifinals and CIAC Class L quarterfinals as a senior last spring.
Loyola lost to Duke in this year's NCAA Tournament.
Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.