Laurendi hired as Titans coach

Dante Laurendi was the perfect fit for the Nashua High School North football job, and it was certainly the best fit for him.

One, Laurendi, who was the head coach at Merrimack High School the last two years, is in his seventh year teaching at North. Two, he’s a former North assistant. Three, he also lives near the school, and his son and daughter will eventually be going to high school there in a few years, so it’s a place he wants to stay.

And four, Laurendi likely never could have made the move to Merrimack as a teacher because of his salary and seniority in the Nashua system.

That would have been too much to give up.

“It was just too good to pass up,” Laurendi said on Tuesday after the Nashua Board of Education approved his hiring. “Being in the building is a big thing. A lot of things fell into place.

“But I wasn’t going after the North job or any other job just to leave Merrimack. I was really happy there. Eric Sabean as the AD created a tremendous opportunity, and the kids were great to work with and very coachable.”

And Laurendi, Nashua athletic director Lisa Gingras said, didn’t get the North coaching job just because he was a teacher there.

He beat out a field of 25 applicants to replace Jason Robie, the North program’s first and only coach. Seven of the applicants were formally interviewed and Gingras said that it came down to two finalists.

“And even if the other finalist had taught in the building, Dante still would’ve gotten the job,” Gingras said, “because he was the most qualified candidate for several reasons, including his ability to work with his players.

“We went through a very extensive process. But Dante had the discipline, the structure, and he got a glowing recommendation from Eric Sabean. And I’m a firm believer that the things you do behind the scenes as a coach are important. Winning will follow.”

While excited about the opportunity at North, Laurendi said it was hard to walk away from Merrimack, where he was trying to build a foundation during two seasons in which Merrimack was 5-13, and had a lot of young talent coming back.

“For the last two years, doing things to help you get to where you want to go, seeing the work that you put in – leaving at that point was very difficult,” Laurendi said.

Still, Laurendi knew that the opportunity down the road might be there, as he said Robie had been talking about the possibility of stepping down as far back as 2010, but wasn’t sure when the time would be right. He knew this year that it was likely Robie’s last at North, as he told Gingras that he was likely going only one more year after the 2013 season.

“But I didn’t think about it at all,” he said. “I was trying to focus on the year.”

At North, Laurendi said he will run the same up-tempo offense Titans fans remember when he was Robie’s offensive coordinator, “and adjust it to the pieces.” As for a staff, that hiring and approval process has yet to really begin, but it’s expected he’ll bring assistant Chad Zibolis with him from Merrimack.

“We’re going to look to start over from scratch with everything,” Laurendi said. “The players who were at North when I last coached here were freshmen. I don’t know how much they know me and what I like to do.”

Laurendi says it will be an adjustment for the players with a new offense and new defense.

“Jason’s teams were always known for their good aggressive defense and we’ll certainly try to keep that,” he said.

Laurendi said it was very hard to tell the Tomahawk players he was leaving.

“I just thanked them and told them I appreciated their hard work and effort in helping us get to where we wanted to be,” he said. “The kids there have great pride in playing football for Merrimack.”

And Laurendi hopes to continue that same pride that has existed with the Titans.