Archbishop Murphy hires Bill Marsh as next football coach

It’s been three years since Bill Marsh resigned as Eastside Catholic’s head football coach.

Wednesday he began a new chapter at a different catholic school.

Archbishop Murphy announced that Marsh will be its third head football coach in the program’s history, picking the five-time Metro League coach of the year over more than 20 other applicants to take over for Dave Ward, who led the Wildcats to back-to-back 2A state championship game appearances before being forced out less than a month ago.

“It’s a good day to be me,” Marsh said Wednesday. “There’s a lot to be excited about in taking over at Murphy. It’s a program that Terry Ennis built, Dave Ward continued and I hope to not mess up. I want to continue the winning tradition.”

Marsh coached at Eastside Catholic for 10 years before resigning in 2009 to spend more time with his family. Under his guidance, the Crusaders were 68-34, including 10-2 and Metro League champs in his final season in 2009. But Marsh, who joined the Mercer Island coaching staff as an assistant in 2010, felt now was the right time to return to the field as a head coach and Murphy had all the right pieces.

“Everything was too perfect here for me to pass up this opportunity,” said Marsh, who specifically cited his faith and history at a private school as reasons for the good fit. “I’m glad I waited.”

Archbishop Murphy athletic director Jerry Zander said the school received more than 20 applications for head coaching job from a number of highly qualified applicants, but that Marsh stood above the rest. Zander said that a committee whittled the number of candidates down to five and then three before choosing Marsh on Tuesday.

“We kept hearing fantastic things from all types of people about Bill,” Zander said. “Most often it was: ‘He’s a good football coach, but a better person.’”

Zander, who decided not to renew Ward’s contract as head football coach on March 8, said that he expects Marsh to not only continue the Wildcats’ excellence on the field but also run a program that is “virtuous” and communicate clearly with players and parents.

“Of course we want to continue to be competitive and successful on the field,” said Zander, who added that Marsh’s history as a coach for a catholic school did weigh heavily in the committee’s decision. “But ultimately we want a leader that faces losing with grace and integrity.”

Unlike Ward, who remains a teacher at Archbishop Murphy, Marsh will not be on campus. He will continue as the executive director at Beecher’s Flagship Foundation, which is based in Seattle and helps children make healthy eating choices. But Marsh, who met with his new players for the first time Wednesday night, said he isn’t worried about not being on campus.

“I spent 17 years at a private school, so I know what it takes to build a program in that environment,” Marsh said. “I understand the different admissions policies and the academic expectations.”

Zander said that former Archbishop Murphy assistant coach Jeff Schmidt was interviewed for the head coaching job and made the top five but declined to mention any other applicants that made the final round.

As for assistant coaches and the rest of Marsh’s staff, Zander said he will make recommendations to Marsh but that the final coaching staff decisions are up to the head coach.

Archbishop Murphy finished the 2011 season 12-2, losing to Lynden in the 2A state championship game.

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