When the sports staff at The Salem News gathered a few months ago to come up with an idea for our annual Summer Sports Series, the notion of picking the greatest football coaches in North Shore history was universally agreed upon.
Whittling down our list, however, was most certainly not.
It took us a long time — as in, longer than an average football game — for us to reach a definitive list. But we're happy with our end result — and hope that you, our readers, are too.
Beginning today and running each day until Friday, Sept. 3, we'll present the 11 greatest football coaches in North Shore history. We'll begin with No. 11 today and work our way backwards chronologically until the No. 1 coach is revealed a week from Friday.
Why 11 coaches? Well, it so happens there are 11 men on one side of a football field at any given time, so the symetry made sense. (Plus, we just couldn't seem to eliminate one of our final 11 candidates down to an even 10, so we decided to stick with 11. Hey, it's our list).
So how did we select these 11 football mavens as the best of the very best?
We factored in all kinds of variables such us career victories, league championships won, unbeaten seasons, how their teams fared against their arch rivals, how good the competition was that their teams faced and their lasting legacy, among others.
To be sure, it was not an easy process. Coaches with multiple league championships and playoff appearances did not make the final cut. So did coaches who reached 100 or more wins for their careers.
As always, we should note that only coaches from schools regularly covered by this newspaper — Beverly, Salem, Danvers, Peabody, Marblehead, Swampscott, St. John's Prep, Bishop Fenwick, Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham, Masconomet, Pingree and North Shore Tech — were up for consideration. This means that many great coaches, such as Tony Fucillo in Winthrop, Bill Wise of Lynn Classical, and Gloucester's Nate Ross and Terry Silva, to name but a few — were not illegible for our series.