Lorain High is ready for its football coach to turn the Titans program into the Division I powerhouse many Lorain County fans expected it to be when Admiral King and Southview consolidated four years ago.
The Titans believe Dave McFarland can get the job done.
Lorain City Schools will recommend McFarland’s hire at the first school board meeting in February.
“During the interview process, he really blew us away with his plan to build this program from the ground up,” Lorain athletic director Bryan Koury said in a statement. “We are extremely excited about the future of Lorain football.”
Koury had 40 applicants for the job, narrowed the field to three finalists and gave two of them second interviews.
“Dave brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program,” Koury said. “He has had tremendous success as a head coach at (four) very different high schools. Everyone that we spoke with raved about Dave as a communicator, motivator and educator. He is a person that generally cares about his players both on and off the field.”
McFarland starred at Elyria Catholic — quarterbacking the 1976 state title team — and began his career as a head coach with the Panthers in 1992. He’s also coached at Berea, Oberlin and Midpark, and had a second stint at his alma mater.
McFarland, whose head-coaching career spans 15 years, has a 90-60 overall record and he led the Panthers to the playoffs in 2005.
While McFarland knows those numbers are what keeps doors opening as his career has progressed, the coach doesn’t like talking about what he’s accomplished … or even his impact on future success.
“When I first started as a young coach, I was all about coaching and football,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “But the last three jobs I’ve had, it’s all been about mentoring young guys. I want to make it about the players. I’m excited to be a part of their lives.”
While McFarland has gaps in his coaching career — taking time off between 1999-2004, and only coaching Midpark in 2012 during the past four years — he has never totally walked away from the sport.
“I’ve coached football (on some level) every year since I started coaching,” said McFarland, who served as Midview’s freshman coach last season and was offered a position by new Middies coach D.J. Shaw before taking the Lorain job. “We’ve run our system on the sixth-grade level, on the ninth-grade level … we’re always looking for the opportunity to coach.”
McFarland has already begun coaching a few of the Titans, taking a handful of players out to dinner Monday night.
“He sat down and he told us his background,” junior wide receiver Rashod Berry said. “I came away from that meeting believing that he can change Lorain football around. I can’t wait to get to know him better.”
It’s a relief to Berry and the other players who will be seniors next season. McFarland will be their third coach in three years, following Tony Shoulders — last season’s interim coach — and Mark Solis, who left for Olentangy in 2012. McFarland has already gone a long way in putting the seniors’ minds at ease.
“He has a lot of things going for him — I took a lot of positives out of (the meeting),” junior quarterback Eddie Williamson said. “He wants us to control our own fate. His focus is for us to be successful … he’s not worried about him being successful.”
McFarland is excited about the group he has inherited. The Titans will have three-year varsity starters in Williamson, Berry and running back Sherman Saunders next season.
“My whole thing is to make it about the seniors … they have a chance to do something special,” McFarland said. “We have a nice group of seniors coming back. They want to lead, they just need to be given the chance.”
McFarland will continue to teach in the Berea city schools system, although his goal is to eventually spend more time at Lorain High.
“I need to be in the building — I want to be a full-time mentor,” he said. “I’m going to retire (from teaching) in another year or two, and then I can put all my focus on football. I want to give back to what I think is a great sport.”