By Dave Stewart
Lou Marinelli, who has led the New Canaan High School football program to 12 state championships and is the state’s all-time winningest high school football coach, will receive the prestigious Gold Key award from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance next month.
The Rams’ longtime coach will be honored at the 77th annual Gold Key Dinner on April 29 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Marinelli, who began his coaching career in New York State, completed his 39th season as a head coach last fall. He has compiled a career record of 340-103-7 (.768), including a 321-96-6 mark during his 36 seasons at New Canaan.
Besides his dozen state crowns, Marinelli has also led the Rams to five FCIAC championships and has been named FCIAC Coach of the Year six times. He was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Coach of the Year in 2008 and was a National Coach of the Year finalist in 2007 and 2010. In 2009, he was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
His first 19 victories came in New York State, where he went 4-4 in his one and only season at Mamaroneck High School in 1977, followed by a 15-3-1 mark in two seasons at Yorktown High.
Marinelli took over as New Canaan’s head coach in 1981, inheriting a team that had struggled through three straight winless seasons, going 0-25-2 during that time. He promptly led the Rams to a 4-5 mark in his first season.
That would turn out to be his only losing season in New Canaan. In fact, in only his second season, Marinelli guided the Rams to an 8-2 record and the 1982 Class L-II state championship.
Now, 36 seasons later, Marinelli has led the Rams to 13 straight CIAC state playoff berths, reaching the state final 10 times.
The Gold Key, started in 1940, is considered one of Connecticut’s highest sports honors with Andy Robustelli, Floyd Little, Calvin Murphy, Gordie Howe, Geno Auriemma, Brian Leetch and Kristine Lilly among the past recipients. A complete list is available at www.ctsportswriters.com.
Tickets to the 2018 Gold Key Dinner are $75 each and can be obtained by contacting George Albano at 203-434-2320, or at Truckin114@aol.com.
Lou Marinelli talks to his Rams after a New Canaan victory. — Dave Stewart photo
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