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New Milford High School's Green Wave football team will take its first hits Aug. 18 under the guidance of a new head coach.

Larry Badaracco was appointed July 30 to guide the fortunes of the NMHS gridiron program.

He had served as an assistant coach during the 2013 season.

"I've made it a point to go out and support the school teams in the five years that I've lived in New Milford," Badaracco said. "I've seen a lot of talented kids working hard with a program going in the right direction."

The Green Wave will play this autumn under the team's third head coach in as many seasons.

Longtime coach Chuck Lynch resigned after the 2012 campaign and was replaced with much ado by former Masuk High mentor John Murphy, who arrived with high expectations for the 2013 season.

The Green Wave experienced a lackluster season under his tutelage, however, posting a 4-7 record, although the team played well the second half of the season.

Murphy resigned in June, stating "personal reasons," and has been under investigation by the Board of Education. Details of the investigation remain unclear.

"The record last year was disappointing," Badaracco conceded. "I think expectations now are higher than that. Coach Murphy did a good job in righting the ship and getting the players focused."

Badaracco said there is always a transitional period when a new head coach takes over. He plans to have this year's football team "hit the ground running."

"My philosophy is to encourage teamwork, promote the fundamentals of the game to assure safety, and discipline is a big factor. Nothing less will be accepted," he said, adding, "and be sure the boys have fun. This is a sport and playing sports should be fun."

NMHS athletic director Keith Lipinsky is impressed with Badaracco's knowledge of the game of football, attention to detail and organizational skills.

"Larry's skills and goals fit best with what we need now: assuring the players are strong in football, assuring that they're at their best in the classroom," Lipinsky said, "and that they have the emotional and mental development that prepares them for life."

Badaracco played center and defensive tackle at Immaculate High School.

He then played linebacker, tight end and fullback at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

Badaracco graduated WestConn in 2006 and was an assistant coach there from 2007 to 2011.

"Larry's experience as an assistant coach at Western Connecticut State made him a strong candidate," Lipinsky said.

Green Wave football has endured nearly a half century history of poor to mediocre results, excepting a few strong campaigns.

The new coach plans to change that. Badaracco said Lipinsky has given his full support to seeing the football program at the high school is successful.

Badaracco will not only be focusing on varsity players. Junior varsity and freshmen players will have the chance to play and will be guided toward their varsity years, he said.

The new coach was pleased with his hiring process.

"The interview process was rigorous," Badaracco said. They definitely did their due diligence in the hiring. It was everything from football X's and O's to administrative issues and everything else you could think of for a head football coach."

"But Keith's been wonderful in his support," he added.

Now it's time to prepare for the 2014 season.

"We'll be focusing on getting the kids to understand there's a pay off that comes from hard work and dedication to in-season practice and off-season weight training," he said. "We'll take our competition seriously and then put our best foot forward."

"We have a lot of talent," Badaracco said. "We definitely have a lot of kids who have been exposed to varsity football and what it takes to be successful. We're going to take it one game at a time. We're going to prepare and work hard."

Badaracco is a special education teacher at the high school in the behavior intervention program and was the Green Wave boys' tennis coach this past spring.

Jon Chik and Norm Cummings contributed to this story; 860-355-7322