Toward the end of the Archbishop Murphy football team’s first fall practice on Aug. 15, new coach Bill Marsh sat down in the bleachers and surveyed his new team.
He seemed to like what he saw.
“They’ve been doing a great job,” Marsh said.
Marsh is the new boss at Murphy after a turbulent offseason in which head coach Dave Ward was relieved of his duties along with longtime assistant coach Jeff Schmidt. The new coach hasn’t been at the helm of a football team for three years — when he coached at Eastside Catholic — but decided the opportunity to lead the Wildcats was just too good to pass up.
The storied history, as well as the importance of the football team in the community were two big allures for Marsh, who wants to continue to build a youth program and work with Murphy’s Gridiron Moms group.
“I want the best program in the state,” Marsh said. “I want them to be champions on the field and in life.”
It sounds simple, but convincing a team that routinely goes to the state tournament to do things a different way was a concern for Marsh coming into the job.
“Trust had to be built,” Marsh said. “They have won. They’ve been very successful … It’s been astonishing how quickly these kids bought into our system.”
As for his coaching style, Marsh admits it may be a bit different than what the players are used to. While he definitely wants to win, he also wants to be sure his kids are having fun on the field.
“I laid the ground rules of what my expectations are,” Marsh said. “My job is to fill up your emotional tanks and make sure you have a good time. … It’s a culture change anytime you have a new coach and they bought in right off the bat.”
The new coach hopes that one thing that doesn’t change is the Wildcats’ penchant for being perennial state playoff contender.
“To me it’s just an honor (to coach Murphy),” Marsh said. “I don’t see it as a daunting task. We respect the past, but we’ve got a path moving forward.
“We definitely want to uphold the tradition of winning.”