Mater Dei Prep High School in Middletown, NJ Will Close Following 2022 School Year
Mater Dei Prep High School, located in the New Monmouth section of Middletown, will close its doors at the end of the 2022 school year due to financial difficulties, Shore Sports Network has learned.
School officials announced the closing on Monday afternoon in a letter emailed to parents of current students which Shore Sports Network has obtained.
"It is with great sadness that the Board of Trustees announces the closing of Mater Dei Prep, effective June 30, 2022 at the end of the current academic year," the email said in the opening paragraph.
The email also stated that enrollment is "at an all-time low of 220 students".
This is the second time Mater Dei has announced a closure in the last seven years. In 2015, the school said it would close for financial reasons but it was able to remain open after several fundraiser efforts raised more than $1 million in two months. The Diocese of Trenton approved the school's plan to open as a private Catholic school separate from St. Mary's parish.
Nearly coinciding with the news that the school would remain open was the meteoric rise of Mater Dei's football program. The Seraphs went from a program that was in the middle of the pack in the Shore Conference's small-school division, Class B Central, to one of the best teams in New Jersey.
Prior to the 2016 season, Mater Dei Prep hired former Rutgers standout and NFL defensive lineman Dino Mangiero as head coach, and with him came a bevy of transfer students that transformed the football team. Mater Dei went from 3-7 in 2015 to undefeated state champions for the first time in school history, winning the 2016 Non-Public Group 2 state title with a storybook ending that saw the Seraphs successfully execute a hook and lateral for a touchdown on the final play of the game.
The Seraphs morphed into a top-20 team in New Jersey, won three division titles, and reached two additional NJSIAA state championship games under Mangiero, who went 43-10 in five seasons before resigning following the 2020 pandemic-shortened season.
Last June, Mater Dei announced that it would not field a varsity football team for the 2021 season. After Mangiero announced he was stepping down, multiple players transferred out of Mater Dei, including Red Bank Catholic senior quarterback Alex Brown and Donovan Catholic senior wide receiver Kyree Drake.
“With the coaching change, a lot of the student-athletes decided they were going to move on and, unfortunately, that took a toll on us, attrition-wise,” Mater Dei Prep athletic director Rich Buckheit said at the time. “That led us to a decision that is in our best interest and that’s to have only a JV team. We’re light on upperclassmen but we have good numbers in our incoming freshmen class and sophomores.”
This year, Mater Dei announced it would return to varsity competition with a limited schedule and hired former Central Regional head coach and Manalapan defensive coordinator Justin Fumando as head coach.
This is a breaking news story that will be updated.