High School Sports

St. Thomas Aquinas football coach Rocco Casullo resigns

St. Thomas Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo shows emotion during a game against Lincoln for the Class 7A state football championship, December 14, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.
St. Thomas Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo shows emotion during a game against Lincoln for the Class 7A state football championship, December 14, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Freelancer

St. Thomas Aquinas is looking for a new football coach.

Rocco Casullo, who won two state championships as head coach the past four seasons and served the previous eight as defensive coordinator under then-coach and current athletic director George Smith, resigned late Wednesday night, Smith said.

The team was informed of Casullo’s departure Thursday afternoon.

“Rocco did a great job over his four-year run,” Smith said. “He wants to pursue other [opportunities]. I don’t know if he knows if it’s going to be in college or high school. He is a very good football coach, and that’s the direction he’s going.

“As far as the next coach, we’re in discussions. We’re not going to jump into anything. We’re in discussions.”

During Casullo’s overall tenure with Aquinas, the Raiders won four state titles and two national championships.

Casullo, 38, led Aquinas to its eighth overall state championship this past season, winning Class 7A with a 14-1 record.

Casullo, who went 47-9 over the past four seasons, released a statement to the media Thursday afternoon.

“I’d like to thank the administration and school athletic director George Smith for their support and guidance from the start,” Casullo said. “I would also like to thank the faculty for their support. I especially want to thank my assistant coaches for their loyalty, dedication and hard work. But, more importantly, I want to thank all the players. These young men have continually worked hard and long and executed what was taught to them by us. Because of their dedicated work ethic, we have maintained the high level of success both athletically and academically. This is what St. Thomas football is all about.”

Smith did not say whether the replacement would come from the current coaching staff, but that could be the preference.

“I think when discussions end, it could be somebody in house, but right now we’re still discussing what to do on that end,” Smith said. “Right now, we’re just going to discuss everything and make sure we get it right and go from there.”

Smith said he would like a coach who can maintain the football program at a nationally elite level.

“I think we’ve become known because we’ve traveled and played games on TV and that sort of thing,” Smith said. “We want to continue our brand out there and let people know who we are, and we will continue to do that. I think that’s great for our players to get publicity. It helps Broward County and the state of Florida. Obviously, that is our attention and focus. We will continue to do the best we can to get these kids in school.

“I want a guy that will be himself,” Smith added. “I want a guy that understands the tradition we have here. I think that’s very important.”

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