Dave Mencarini resigned as Urbana’s football coach in the wake of a police report stating he struck one of his players during the second quarter of Urbana’s season opener at Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County on Sept. 3.
The report was filed with the Baltimore County Police Department on Sept. 15 by the father of the player. There are no active or closed charges related to the incident, according to online court records.
Mencarini, 42, resigned Tuesday, three days before he was scheduled to return to the team after a two-game absence that Frederick County Public Schools deemed “a personnel decision at Urbana High School.”
He retains his job as a physical education and strength training teacher at Urbana.
Mencarini was not on the sideline for Urbana’s Sept. 9 home game against South Hagerstown or its Sept. 16 game at Westminster High School. Frederick County Public Schools declined to call it a suspension or a leave of absence.
In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Mencarini’s wife, Brynn, said her husband had been suspended for three weeks and “essentially forced out” of the job “for something he didn’t do.”
Brynn continued: “Dave has been an educator and coach for twenty years. He is in it for the kids. He loves teaching, and he loves coaching football. He prides himself on developing outstanding students (not only athletes) who get good grades, who are respectful, and who will become outstanding young men and productive adults. He loves these kids. He loves this community.”
Stepping down with Mencarini are assistant coaches Joe Mencarini, Dave’s father, Kevin Tehaan and Joe Rydzewski. It’s unclear why the assistants have stepped down.
Mencarini, Urbana athletic director Ryan Hines and Frederick County Public Schools declined multiple requests to comment on the record about the incident.
The family of the player also chose to not comment.
Mencarini’s tenure as Urbana’s football coach abruptly ends at the start of its third season. The Hawks were 13-9 under him and made one playoff appearance during the 2014 season, his first on the job.
Hines, who spent spent four seasons as Urbana’s football coach and led the Hawks to the Class 4A state title in 2010 prior to taking over as the school’s athletic director on Jan. 1, 2014, will coach the team for the rest of the season.
The Hawks are off to one of their worst starts ever. If they don’t beat visiting Oakdale on Friday night, they will be 0-4 for the first time in school history.
“I’m fortunate to be with a great group of kids and looking forward to helping them grow and have a positive experience for the rest of the season,” Hines said.
Mencarini spoke fondly of his players leading into the season. He was excited about the team’s prospects. But everything unraveled.
According to the police report, Mencarini and a player became involved in an argument and were face to face during the second quarter of Urbana’s 37-20 loss at Milford Mill, a game the Hawks led 14-0 at one point.
Before the altercation, Mencarini had requested to speak to the player, according to the report. The coach had been observed in an aggravated state and was screaming at many of his teammates while using “vulgar language.”
The report says Mencarini “raised his arm, drew it back making a fist” and struck the player on the chest, causing his shoulders to be thrown backward. Since the player was wearing his football padding, there were no visible injuries as a result of the blow.
The report states there were many witnesses to the incident.
After the blow, the player walked away from Mencarini, but the coach followed him and continued to use foul language, the report says.
On the bus ride home, the report says Mencarini approached the player and apologized for his behavior.
The following day, the father of the player notified Urbana High School of the incident. The report states Mencarini sent “multiple” text messages to the father of the player, apologizing for the treatment of his son and calling his own behavior “inappropriate.”
Nearly two weeks after the incident, the father of the player showed up at a Baltimore County police station to file a report against Mencarini and pursue an assault charge.
“I just hate to see something like this,” Damascus football coach Eric Wallich said. “It’s unfortunate for everyone involved.”
Mencarini came to Urbana High School in February 2014 with a raised profile.
In 10 seasons as the head football coach at Quince Orchard High School, the Cougars never missed the playoffs. Mencarini won more than 100 games and was named the Coach of the Year in 2007 after leading Quince Orchard to its first state title in Class 4A.
Under Mencarini, Quince Orchard was the state runner-up in 2011 and ‘12 and finished the regular season with an unbeaten regular season three times.
“I think he is as good as any coach that is out there,” said Wallich, who served as an assistant under Mencarini in 2007. “His record speaks for itself.”
While he worked at Quince Orchard, Mencarini made the 20-mile commute each day to Gaithersburg from his home in the Villages at Urbana, where he has been a resident for almost 15 years.
After leading Quince Orchard to an 11-2 record and a trip to the state semifinals in 2013, Mencarini approached Hines about the Urbana football job.
Hines, who had just left the position to become the school’s athletic director, was floored by Mencarini’s interest.
Hines’ immediate reaction was, “How do we make this work? What has to happen?”
Hines received 28 applications for the job and interviewed four candidates. But hiring Mencarini seemed like a no-brainer for him.
“It’s amazing. I don’t think you can find a better coach in the state of Maryland to take the job,” he said at the time. “We had some strong candidates. But, when you look at the full body of work, I don’t think anybody compares to what Dave’s done. We are very fortunate.”
Shortly after he was introduced as Urbana’s new coach prior to a varsity boys basketball game, Mencarini expressed his desire to spend more time with his wife and two daughters and work closer to home.
That’s why he said he left Quince Orchard. He had spent 17 years as a teacher and coach in the Montgomery County school system.
“I don’t have the energy to start over” with a football program, he said following his introduction. “Here I get to carry on the great tradition that Ryan and all of the other previous coaches have established. That’s exciting for me.”
In his first season at Urbana, Mencarini won eight of his first nine games and reached the Class 3A West playoffs before being routed 46-3 by Wallich, his former assistant, and Damascus. The Hawks finished 8-3.
The following season, after a 40-12 season-opening home win over Milford Mill, Urbana lost three in a row and needed wins in three of its final four games to avoid the first losing season in school history.
Mencarini called the Hawks’ 5-5 record in 2015 humbling and said it forced the entire program to refocus.
Now, that’s something he must do personally with his coaching future looking uncertain.
“This is a good lesson for everyone,” Brynn Mencarini wrote on Facebook. “We will come out of this stronger with the support of our Urbana community.”
— Staff writer Kate Masters contributed to this report