On Sunday morning, Archbishop Murphy athletic director Jerry Zander met with first-year football coach Bill Marsh. At the meeting, two days after the Wildcats’ 49-0 loss to Lakewood, Marsh surprised Zander with an announcement: He was resigning as the school’s football coach.
Zander asked his coach to take a little time and think about his decision. But on Monday morning, Marsh finalized what he said the day before: He was resigning effective immediately.
Marsh, who went 2-2 at Archbishop Murphy, couldn’t be reached for comment. The news hit area coaches and fans like a splash of cold water.
“That’s exactly how we feel as well,” Zander said. “It was a shock to us. It was a shock to me. He resigned, and it was 100 percent his decision. We didn’t ask him to. We weren’t even looking to make any kind of a move. We were prepared to have Bill Marsh as our head coach for many, many years. It was a surprise to us. All he told us is it was for personal reasons. I just want to let everyone know that he was not asked to resign.”
Assistant coach Mike Allison, who Zander said was one of three finalists for the job before Marsh was hired, will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Marsh replaced former coach Dave Ward, who went 47-6 record in four seasons, including state runner-up finishes the last two years. But the school made drastic changes in the athletic department before this season.
Archbishop Murphy fired former athletic director Rick Stubrud and placed Ward and one of his assistants, Jeff Schmidt, on administrative leave. Eventually, Zander decided not to retain Ward, who is now at Sedro-Woolley.
“We are obviously very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Zander told the Everett Herald earlier this year. “But we want Archbishop Murphy football to be about more than just wins and losses. We want it to be a fantastic experience.”
Marsh arrived after spending 10 seasons as the head coach at Eastside Catholic. The Crusaders went 68-34 during Marsh’s tenure, but he resigned in 2009. At the time, he said, “There are some other professional goals I have for myself.” He also said the decision was 100 percent his own.
Marsh and the Wildcats opened the year with two wins, including a 40-26 win against University City in San Diego. Before that game, Marsh said he and his administrators were planning on getting on a plane every other year for out-of-state games.
The Wildcats returned home and lost 40-15 against King’s on ROOT Sports. It was King’s first win against Archbishop Murphy. The following the week, the Wildcats lost 49-0 to then-No. 8 Lakewood.
Marsh told Zander that he was leaving for person reasons and that “his decision is not related to the Sept. 21 loss to Lakewood High School,” according to the school’s statement.
Zander said he met with the football team on Monday afternoon, and he will also meet with parents.
“The season doesn’t end just because coach Marsh decided to resign,” Zander said. “We need to move forward.”
Allison, a former Oregon linebacker, was the assistant linebackers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Portland State University before taking the job at Archbishop Murphy. He also spent years coaching at high schools in Oregon.
Archbishop Murphy plays South Whidbey on Oct. 5.
Here’s the full press release from Archbishop Murphy:
Archbishop Murphy High School head football coach Bill Marsh this weekend announced his resignation. Marsh also has resigned as associate athletic director at AMHS.
Assistant coach Mike Allison immediately will begin serving as interim head football coach for the Wildcats for the remainder of the season.
The announcement was unexpected, said Athletic Director Jerry Zander. Marsh said he is resigning for personal reasons and that his decision is not related to the Sept. 21 loss to Lakewood High School.
“As disappointed as I am that Bill is leaving, we still have a majority of the season’s league games ahead of us so we need to move forward with determination and enthusiasm,” Zander said. “I wish the best for Bill.”
Before joining the Archbishop Murphy coaching staff for the 2012 season, Mike Allison was the assistant linebacker’s coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Portland State University since 2011.
Allison’s football career began in 1991 at the University of Oregon where he played linebacker and later served as graduate assistant coach from 1994-1996. He coached the Ducks in the Rose Bowl in 1994 and the Cotton Bowl in 1995. Between 1996 and 2010 Allison served in various coaching positions at three high schools in Oregon: Marist High School in Eugene, Gresham High School in Gresham, and Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukee. He was head coach at Marist when his team won the state championship in 2003.
“Mike was in the top three when we were hiring in April,” Zander said. “He’s been a great asset to our coaching team; I feel good moving forward with Mike at the helm.”
Zander said he and Allison will meet with members of the football team as well as their parents to discuss the transition and expectations for the remainder of the football season.
The Wildcats’ next football game is Oct. 5 at home against South Whidbey High School