Ciccotelli has spent over three decades coaching football in some capacity in New Jersey, including stints as the head coach of Freehold Borough, Neptune, Rahway and Saint John Vianney high schools, among others. He has been part of seven state championship teams, three as a head coach. Mater Dei Prep’s former offensive coordinator, Lance Bennet, is now assistant to the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
“I cut my coaching teeth in the Shore Conference and it has always felt like home to me,” said Ciccotelli, who has built positive relationships with coaches, administrators, parents and athletes over many years. “I saw Mater Dei as an opportunity to return to my coaching roots.”
Ciccotelli was raised in a football-coaching family and attributes his past successes to the early influences of his father Salvatore – a successful coach in Union – and brothers, Mike – a hall of fame coach from Keyport – and Steve – a former head coach at Scotch Plains-Fanwood. “My family has dedicated its professional life to putting kids first and using football as a teaching tool to build better men,” Ciccotelli said.
“We are very fortunate to have Coach Ciccotelli join our staff,” said Mater Dei Prep head coach Dino Mangiero. “He comes from a legendary football family and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program.” Mangiero praised Ciccotelli’s past successes and expressed his eagerness to introduce the new coach’s state-of-the-art, wide-open offense.
After speaking with Mangiero, Ciccotelli said he realized their coaching philosophies were “in sync.”
“Football teaches you to put others first and forces you to understand that others are counting on you,” said Ciccotelli. “When kids get that, it not only makes your football team better, but gives them the recipe for becoming better coworkers, better husbands and better fathers.”
“The number one goal of the Mater Dei Prep football program is to prepare young men for the challenges of life,” said Mangiero, who emphasizes character, education and work ethic in his coaching.
“We teach character first. Always be a respectful, humble individual,” Mangiero said. But excelling in the classroom is equally as important. “Our players are taught to strive for academic excellence,” he said. “Lastly, we make them understand that nothing can be accomplished without developing a joy for the hard work it takes to be a great student-athlete.” Ciccotelli agreed. He said he believes “it is a coach’s job to take athletes where they can’t take themselves” through hard work and discipline.
“Clarence Lewis (MDP ’20) is a great example of a serious young man who has great character, has great grades and is one of the hardest working boys in our program,” Mangiero said. Clarence plays cornerback for the Seraphs and is also a track standout. As he wraps up his junior year, Clarence already has 31 offers to play collegiate football, including a full scholarship from the University of Notre Dame.
On Saturday, June 22, Mater Dei Prep will host the Champion Football Camp for students entering fifth through eighth grades. The camp is a well-balanced, noncontact program designed to build players’ confidence, run by staff from local high schools, colleges and the NFL, including Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins and Joe Cullen of the Baltimore Ravens. Campers will develop fundamental football skills while following a collegiate-type practice schedule. For more information, visit championfootballcamp.com.