Eight years ago, Mark Bettencourt made sure that one of Peabody’s most successful high school sports programs entered a new era with stability and success.
Now, he’s being asked to do it again.
Peabody High officially hired Bettencourt as the 21st head football coach in the school’s history yesterday, after an eight-person search committee unanimously recommended him to Superintendent Joe Mastrocola.
Bettencourt is entering his ninth season as Peabody’s head baseball coach and takes over a football program that last fall endured its first winless season (0-10) since 1958.
“I’m humbled to have this opportunity,” Bettencourt, 40, said yesterday. “As a coach, its the most exciting thing that’s happened to me since I got the baseball job. Having the chance to go back to your high school and positively impact kids the way coach (Ed) Nizwantowski and his staff impacted me when I played is an honor.”
The quarterback of Peabody’s 1990 Super Bowl championship team, Bettencourt was a football assistant for three seasons at Peabody from 2007-09. He also assisted the football team while he was head baseball coach at UMass-Boston, and topped a field of 16 applicants for the Peabody High job.
The search committee interviewed seven candidates — including three current high school head coaches, one a Super Bowl winner. Bettencourt, a finalist for the job in 2008 when it went to Scott Wlasuk, was the unanimous choice.
“We had some great applicants,” Athletic Director Phil Sheridan said. “The reaction after Mark left the room for his interview was amazing. One of the guys on the committee said he was ready to put his helmet on after listening to Mark speak.”
Bettencourt immediately brought Dave Bettencourt aboard as defensive coordinator and line coach, bringing a wealth of experience. He also plans to have Peabody alums Bob Murphy and Jimmy Festa to coach the linebackers. Matt O’Brien, who served as interim coach after Wlasuk stepped down after five games last fall, will return to help with the offense and last year’s freshman coach, Mark Falco, will move up to varsity.