The Merrimack Valley Conference has been one of the top football leagues in the state in recent years. For a school looking to continue its program’s upward trajectory, drawing a young assistant coach from the MVC seems to make perfect sense.
Danvers High announced the hiring of Shawn Theriault, Andover’s defensive coordinator for the last four years, as its new head football coach yesterday.
“Leading a program is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Theriault. “I didn’t want to leave Andover unless it was a good fit and Danvers is perfect. It’s a new school, the kids are tough and they want to compete and they’re also students. It’s a place where pride matters. Kids play for their colors, not just for themselves.”
The 32-year-old Theriault helped Andover go 31-15 over the last four years, including an MVC Large title in 2012. He grew up and lives in Wakefield and is a middle school teacher in Billerica. In college, he was an outstanding running back at UMass-Dartmouth, and graduated in 2003 as the Corsairs all-time leading rusher.
He takes over at Danvers less than a month after Sean Rogers resigned on Jan. 8. Under Rogers, the Falcons went 17-26 in four years and increased their win total every season culminating in a 7-4 campaign and a Northeastern Conference South title last fall.
Danvers returns five offensive starters (junior linemen Dan Cote and Kevin Smith, receiver Cris Valles, fullback Chris Behen and quarterback Nick Andreas) and seven on defense (linemen Drew Salvo and Skylar Falite, linebackers Sam Vitales and Joe O’Donnell and the all-underclass defensive backfield of Quinn Holland, Dan Lynch, Richie Martino and Matt Andreas).
“Danvers has a great basketball program, and a great baseball program. I told our kids, I don’t think those teams want to be average. They decided they wanted to be great and we can do the same thing,” said Theriault. “The kids are geared up for the conditioning program, the 7-on-7’s in the summer; whatever it takes.”
After meeting with the players yesterday, and speaking with some of the captains during the interview process, Theriault was impressed with the maturity of his new team.
“They’re the type of kids that sit up straight and look you in the eye. You can see the discipline they have,” said Theriault. “They took a great step forward last year and you can see they’re excited to try to take another. You can’t tell they want to win, but they want to win as a team. They’re not concerned about individual stuff.”
Theriault worked at Framingham State for a year before coordinating the defense at Westford and then Andover. Coaching the Golden Warriors against some of the more advanced offenses statewide prepared him to be a head coach, he believes.
“I like to be aggressive. A lot of it is preparation, being able to line up and handle everything an offense can throw at you, and setting the tone,” the coach said. “The complexity of the offenses in the MVC prepares you for anything.”
Theriault hopes to fill out his assistant coaches in the coming weeks as he gauges interest in holdovers from Rogers staff as well as others both in the school system and from his own background. Offensively, he foresees a system that plays an up-tempo style and is similar in style to head coach E.J. Perry’s in Andover.
“One thing we always did in Andover was keep defenses on their toes. We were creative in that there was always something different you had to worry about,” Theriault said. “As a defensive coach, you know what works against you, so what we do will stem a lot from that.”