The Monmouth Regional High School community is in mourning after assistant football coach Mike Dragonetti passed away suddenly on Wednesday.

Dragonetti served as the Falcons’ offensive and defensive line coach both last season and this season under head coach Larry Nikola. A retired NYPD detective, Dragonetti was also previously an assistant coach at Colts Neck.

“He was probably the wittiest person I ever met and he was old school,” Nikola said. “The kids adored him for his sayings and the funny things he would do. He was just different. Since we got the news I’ve had 30 or 40 calls and texts from players, parents, the whole school.”

Nikola said grief counselors are in place at the school to help any students.

“We explained everything to them last night and I think they’re doing ok, but it’s too soon to be able to assess the full extent of it,” Nikola said. He was bigger than life.”

Comments posted to the Monmouth Regional Football and Cheer Organization’s Facebook page described Dragonetti as a beloved coach known for making everybody laugh. Nikola saw this firsthand on many occasions, as the two were friends for many years. He recalled a trip to Atlantic City last season with Dragonetti and assistant coach Vince Tesi to see a comedian whom Tesi knew from college.

“After the show, we meet up with the guy for drinks and in less than a two-hour period they wanted Mike to be his agent,” Nikola said. “He was unique; the funniest guy I probably ever met. He was actually starting to do comedy shows in clubs in New York.”

Sadly, this is not the first time tragedy has struck the Dragonetti family. In 2007, Dragonetti’s son, also named Mike, was killed in a car accident as a high school senior at Freehold Boro High School. Dragonetti was the captain of the Colonials’ football team.

Friends are invited to pay their respects to the family on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Kurzawa Funeral Home - 338 Main Street, South Amboy, NJ 08879 - from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A 10 a.m. funeral mass will be on Monday, Sept. 17 at St. Rose of Lima Church - 16 McLean St., Freehold, NJ 07728. Dragonetti will be laid to rest with his son at St. Rose of Lima Cemetary in Freehold. To send condolences or a tribute and for additional information please visit


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.