RECRUITING AREAS: New England
Dave Dunn joined CUA in January 2006, assuming the reins of a team that had won just two games the previous two seasons. In just his third year, he led the Cardinals (9-2) to a share of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship and a postseason victory.
The league title was CUA’s second ever; its postseason win its first in 73 years.
The 2008 Cardinals were searching for their first ODAC championship in nine years before losing their final regular-season game. Their overall performance was enough to secure an invitation to play at Johns Hopkins University (8-2) in the ECAC Southeast Bowl. The Cards’ rallied for a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final two minutes and then held off the Blue Jays for an 18-17 victory. CUA defensive lineman Dean Petrone was named Most Outstanding Player.
The win was the program’s first postseason triumph since it captured the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1936.
CUA finished in a four-way tie for first place in the ODAC with a 4-2 record. Thirteen Cardinals were named All-Conference, including six on the first team. Defensive back Nick Olivero was honored as ODAC Defensive Player of the Year, and quarterback Keith Ricca Offensive Player of the Year.
Olivero garnered ODAC Scholar Athlete of the Year honors and won the Harris Cup, CUA’s most prestigious award for male senior athletes. He was also named All-Region by D3football.com and honorable mention All-American. Ricca joined him on the All-Region team.
Dunn, entering his 22nd season as a football coach, displayed flashes of his coaching ability early by winning his first two games with the Cardinals. His 2006 club won three times before going 5-5 in 2007. A young 2010 CUA squad won three more games than it did the previous season, hosted the first-ever night game in school history and placed four student-athletes on the All-ODAC Teams, including Second Team selections Rich Brennan and Christian Pavik.
In 2011, Dunn directed the CUA offense to a No. 4 national ranking in passing, as the Cardinals averaged 328.2 yards per game through the air, eclipsing the 300-yard mark in seven games. CUA won its most games since 2008 and produced eight All-Conference selections, including First Team honoree James Fucillo.
Fucillo, a linebacker, was then joined by offensive lineman Michael O'Shea on the All-Region Teams, while quarterback Greg Cordivari was named to the Beyond Sports Network (BSN) All-America Team. Cordivari was also named the 2011 Melberger Award winner, which is symbolic of Division III's top football player. Cordivari established CUA single season records for completions (321) and attempts (505) last season, while also setting single game records for completions (46) and attempts (67). He threw for 3,282 yards and 25 touchdowns, while completing over 63% of his passes.
Off the field, 31 of Dunn's student-athletes were named to the 2011 ODAC All-Academic Team, and the Cardinals continued to give back to the local community, participating in a number of service initiatives, including the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service, where CUA traveled to local schools to paint and clean.
Dunn is the school’s eighth varsity head coach since it joined Division III in 1977 and its 23rd overall.
Building His Coaching Resume
Dunn began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1990 when he served as San Diego’s defensive line coach under head coach Brian Fogarty. In the springs of 1991-92, he played professionally and was head coach of the Graz Giants in Austria. Dunn played running back, defensive end and occasionally quarterback in leading the team to an overall record of 16-4.
In the fall of 1992, Dunn coached outside linebackers at Indiana State University. One of his players, Dan Brandenburg, was a seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1996 and played for them three years.
From 1993-96, Dunn guided Masuk High School of Monroe, Conn., to a 29-12 record, including 1995 and ’96 South West Conference Colonial Division championships. The 1996 squad was a Class L state semifinalist.
Dunn returned to the college ranks for the following two seasons as defensive line and strength coach at Harvard University, where he helped produce six All-Ivy League linemen. The 1997 club ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, went 9-1 and captured the Ivy League championship.
Dunn’s prized defensive lineman, Tim Fleiszer, was the first player chosen in the 1998 Canadian Football League draft by the Montreal Alouettes. Dunn also coached Mike Sands, who played for the Rhein (Germany) Fire in NFL Europe, and Chris Nowinski, a former World Wrestling Entertainment performer who is now a leading expert on sports concussions.
In 1999-2000, Dunn coached Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School and led the Explorers to a 17-4 record and two district titles. He was head coach at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, Fla., the next two seasons. His eight-year high school record is 56-26 (.683).
Dunn’s work at John Paul II caught the attention of legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger, who hired him to coach running backs and special teams at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Dunn joined the Owls just prior to the start of spring practice in 2003 and helped the third-year program go 11-3, win 10 straight and reach the NCAA Division 1-AA national semifinals.
Dunn remained at FAU through the first three games of the 2004 season – all victories – until resigning to become the first head coach at Becker College in Worcester, Mass. He recruited 90 student-athletes in just nine months and came to CUA after the 2005 season.
Dunn played linebacker and tight end at Stamford (Conn.) Catholic High School – now Trinity Catholic – and helped the team go 9-2 as a senior (1983) and advance to the state championship game. He graduated in 1984 and was an assistant coach there in 1991.
While working summer basketball camps at the University of San Diego (USD), Dunn became enamored with the Roman Catholic institution overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He played nose guard for USD and was a team captain his junior and senior years. He was named All-California and Toreros’ Defensive Player of the Year his final season (1989). The school records he established for sacks in a game (4), season (12) and career (19) stood for 18 years. He graduated in 1989 with a degree in business administration.
A native of Detroit, Dunn was born on Oct. 15, 1965 to Bob and Nancy Dunn. His family moved to Trumbull, Conn., in 1975. Currently, Dunn lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Danisha, and son Jack.