Well, the votes are in. It was close and we got many, many very good responses for almost every coach in the leagues.
But after a careful tally, the winner by a good handful was indeed, Coach Tom Marsh of the Noble County Wolfpack.
What was the best thing about this was that votes for Coach Marsh were not by only Wolfpack players, but players around the leagues (IFL and MFL) and even a couple coaches themselves chimed in their respect for this man and his efforts.
Everyone here would like to thank him and all of you players who voted, but we also had a chance to catch up with the coach as he took some time to do a Q/A with me in-between preparing for the Wolfpack’s upcoming playoff game….
Vince – “Coach Marsh, First, thanks for you time to do this with us and congrats on the honor! Now, how was it you were approached to Coach the team, and what were you doing football wise, prior to Coaching the Wolfpack?"
Coach Marsh – “I was asked by a few players that I had coached in high school about getting a team around for an opening in the IFL. Before this year I have been involved at West Noble with football for about 23 years at the middle school and high school level.”
Vince –“Who is all helping you with coaching the team?”
Coach Marsh - “Helping coach the Wolfpack are Gary Groves a long time buddy of mine and Danny Rodriguez a former player I coached about 6 years ago.”
Vince - “When practice started this season and you had a shot to review your talent, did you have any idea how well the team would play?”
Coach March – “When we first started I had no idea how we would be, I had nothing to judge our team by since I had never saw a semi-pro football game before in my life.”
Vince – “Were there any welcome things that you DIDN’T expect from certain players either in play or leadership?”
Coach Marsh – “We had a couple of players that came over from other teams that maybe had a label of an individual and not a team guy, but that was not the case for us. The other thing I did not expect our first year guys to play such a huge role this year.”
Vince – “Is there a certain philosophy you have you’re players follow or one that YOU model yourself after to set a bar for the team or yourself to meet?”
Coach Marsh – “It was great to start with guys like Faruq Ghaffar, Andrew Shrock, Charles Gross, and Brian Clawson just to name a few players as our core. They have been the around and these are the guys I went to when I had any questions. We have a motto that we have talked about since day one, TO BE SUCCESSFUL EVERYONE MUST ACCEPT THEIR ROLE ON THIS TEAM. AND IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THEIR ROLE IS FROM STARTER TO SPECIAL TEAM PLAYER TO EVEN THE GUY WHO MAYBE ONLY PLAYS A COUPLE OF PLAYS A GAME. That is a must to be a member of our team. We have stressed that our team is family not a team made of individuals it may sound funny but it is a must on our team. We also get together players, wives and players kids and do things in the community together. The community has been a very big part of our first season we had over 600 at our last home game.”
Vince – “Early in the season you hade more than your share of close calls and games that were VERY close to being wins, but feel just a hair short. Usually, this demoralizes most teams, especially a newer team. But yours did not. In fact, did the opposite! How in the world did you get your guys to remain resilient enough during the 1st part of the year to go on a tear and finish the season 3-0?
Coach Marsh – “I think the biggest job at the beginning was being a salesmen, I had to tell our guys to keep believing in what we are doing it will pay off."
Vince – “Players like Gross, Petrie, Shrock and Clawson - as we have mentioned, can make a HUGE difference on a team both talent AND character wise, but what players ( if you will) are also unsung that we may not know about?”
Coach Marsh - “We have 11 or 12 players on our team that have never played semi-pro football or any where since they got out of high school that have made a huge impact on our team this year. Also the guys that do not start that have accepted their roles is been big for us. We have only practiced once a week since the middle of June and average almost 30 guys at practice a week. THAT’S commitment!”
Vince – “Speaking of wins/losses, we HAVE to ask this. Try to describe what you actually felt when you got that HUGE win that started all the recent winning against the then- previously unbeaten Shamrock.”
Coach Marsh – “Winning our game in overtime against the Shamrock I think helped us realize that we belong in this very competitive league. I will tell you this we are not looking past them this week, we know we will have our hands full. They are a very good football team.”
Vince –“As previously mentioned, it was not just your teams' players, but various players around the league, including coaches such as head coach J.T. of the Generals stressed support of you getting this honor. With so many people providing their admiration of all you have done, how does this feel and is there anything you’d like to tell them via this interview?”
Coach Marsh - “I am honored getting recognized by guys from our team and around the league. I also think it is cool getting a vote from Generals coach JT, I wonder if he would be so kind to spot us some points if we ever get to play them again. Just kidding, good luck JT and the Generals.”
Vince – “Just curious, who are your favorite college and pro football team(s)?"
Coach Marsh – “Notre Dame and Trine University are my favorite college teams (I have a couple former linemen at Trine). Pro team is the Bears.”
Vince –“Lastly, you took both the Cutters and Generals down the wire, and lost a good game to the Mustangs early in the season. (The three other top teams in the IFL) In your opinion, do the Wolfpack have what it takes to make it to, and WIN the IFL Championship this year?"
Coach Marsh – “Your question does the Wolfpack have what it takes to win the IFL this year. Yes, but I also think that any team that plays in the semi finals has a great chance to win it all. The team that plays with the fewest mistakes will be the one standing at the end, it will be a great playoff in the IFL.”
Vince – “Thank you coach, we will see you this weekend at the playoff game.”
Coach Marsh - “Thank you!”
* You know kids, this is a great game for so many reasons. I had said before that typically a new team must pay dues to get the right of passage to be able to compete and win in this game, and few will disagree. But once in a while, a special team with special players and a determined coach will come along and not only break the mold, they smash it into smithereens! This man did what many would say couldn’t be done, and humbly and respectfully won while doing it, and we applaud the efforts AND success of Coach Marsh and his team.
Oh, don’t think this replaces the predictions this week. We have a full slate of data to go over as it gets down to cinnamon toast CRUNCH time in both leagues. (By the way, never skip breakfast or you’re likely to do something silly like post a joke like THAT on a public forum with your name attached to it!)
Ya gotta love this game!