MILLBURN, NJ - Millers’ head football coach Patrick Leonardis held a closed meeting with the entire football program recently to announce his resignation. He said he was leaving for personal reasons.
Leonardis ran a strict program. With a grandfather in the U.S. Navy and his father in the U.S. Army, attention to detail was ingrained in him during his childhood. “ATD” as Leonardis called it was a mantra passed onto his players.
“Accountability, a sense of pride and discipline. That was our motto for four years.” Leonardis said
Leonardis was named Millburn’s head football coach in 2012. Prior to his first season with the Millers, Leonardis had never been a head coach. Coming off his most successful season at the helm of the Miller football program, Leonardis finished his career with a 17-25 overall record.
The Millers marched to the playoffs in Leonardis’ first year, with a terrific bounce back season after going 2-8 the previous year. In his second season, Millburn finished with a 4-6 record. With high expectations going into the third year, Millburn was hit with injuries, with star quarterback, Jared Harris out for the season due to a knee injury. With that, Millburn finished 2-8.
Leonardis capped off his career with his most successful season, bringing the Millers to a record of 5-5 for the first time since 2006. His last season featured wins against rivals, Livingston, Princeton, and Caldwell, for the first time since 1973.
Four years is just enough to see a freshman class evolve into a graduating class. Many of Leonardis’ players will go on to play at the collegiate level. Zach Weinstein, Millburn’s all-time leading rusher, will play football at the University of Hamilton, Dean Scweinler at the University of Muhlenberg, and Joe DeLeone at University of Rhode Island. Jake Pickard, one of Leonardis’ graduates currently plays defensive end for Syracuse University.
“I hope that they [the student athletes] learned as much from us as coaches as we did from them. The greatest compliment of a coach is to see a player evolve throughout their career and to see them succeed.” Said Leonardis.
Leonardis promised his players and coaches that he would not coach elsewhere this season. However, he did leave the door open for the possibility of accepting a coaching position at another high school in the years to come. He will continue as the Junior Varsity men’s basketball coach and continue to teach physical education teacher at Millburn High School.
Specific candidates for a new head coach have not been publicly announced. The players prefer one from within the school.