By Phil Stacey
---- — If you want to sum up the football philosophy of new Ipswich High head coach Greg Brotherton, you can do so in one word:
“I love to play fast on offense, defense and special teams,” said Brotherton, an Ipswich native who now returns to coach his alma mater. “I definitely don’t want the players thinking; I want them reacting.”
Brotherton, a former wide receiver and cornerback who won a Super Bowl at Ipswich High as a senior in 1991, replaces Ted Flaherty, who stepped down after eight seasons on the job a week after the 2012 season ended. Brotherton worked as the defensive coordinator for Flaherty’s team in 2006.
The 39-year-old Lynn police officer has spent the last five seasons as the defensive coordinator at Lynn English. He says coming back to Ipswich to be the school’s head coach is “like a dream.”
“I’ve wanted to be part of this program since I was playing. I realized I was 5-foot-8 and not very fast, so I figured to stay in the game I better get into coaching,” he laughed.
Ipswich finished the 2012 season with a 2-9 record. Since winning the Division 3A Super Bowl crown in 2006, the Tigers have won only 10 of 63 contests.
Brotherton plans on installing a spread offense in Ipswich — a school that has run the Delaware Wing-T offense for almost 50 years.
“I was grew up in the Wing-T and was a diehard,” he admits, “but having been involved in the spread at English the last five years, the kids just love it. By being real quick on offense, you simplify the defenses you play against by keeping them in 1 or 2 fronts, coverages and blitzes. By doing that, you can really predict what you’ll see and can get plays out faster.
“It’s just a mindset; you get the ball out there quick and can get it to six different guys right after the snap. By doing so, you’re stretching out the defense horizontally and vertically; they’ve got to cover the entire field against you.”
Ipswich returns some skill players on offense, including the team’s leading rusher, Derek Chamberlain (788 yards), quarterback Kyle Blomster, wideout Chris McCormack and backs Kyle Blomster and Andrew Connor. Finding some linemen, said Brotherton, will be essential.
“I think there’s a possibility we can be good right away,” said Brotherton. “With the way the new (statewide playoff system) has changed schedules, we’re playing teams on our level that we can be competitive with right away.”
Ipswich High Athletic Director Tom Gallagher cited Brotherton’s wealth of football knowledge and experience as a major factor.
“As a school we are incredibly excited and feel very fortunate to have Greg on board as our new coach,” said Gallagher. “His passion for football is great and he will undoubtedly bring a new and fresh approach to our program. We look forward to working with him to build on the storied tradition of Ipswich High School football.”
After graduating from Ipswich High in 1992, Brotherton went to Bridgton Academy in Maine for a year of prep school, then Springfield College for one year and played at Framingham State in 1994. He then joined the Army National Guard, and was later deployed to Pakistan for 10 months following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Brotherton began coaching high school ball at Georgetown in 1998 and did so for five years through 2003 (with the exception of 2002, when he was deployed). He was part of the school’s Super Bowl champions in 2000, and took over the Royals as co-head coach with Paul Swaim after three games into the 2003 campaign.
He first returned to Ipswich in 2004 as an offensive coordinator under then-head coach (and former Georgetown head coach) Rollie Hinckley before going to the police academy in 2005. He came back to Ipswich in 2006 to work for Flaherty before being hired at Lynn English in 2008.
“Ipswich pride and tradition is about the product that you see on the field and the effort you give,” said Brotherton. “I can’t wait for the season to get going.”