LYNN — After an entire winter, spring and summer of waiting, there’s less than 10 days left until high school football gets underway again at St. Mary’s. And while fans and players are surely excited, no one’s more eager to get back on the field than new St. Mary’s coach Sean Driscoll.
“Believe me, I’ve been counting the days,” said Driscoll. “It’s been great going through the summer and talking to guys and building up some relationships, but we’re all just itching to get back on the field and get started.”
Driscoll is ready to embark on his first year at the helm of the Spartans program after former coach Matt Durgin stepped down in January. Driscoll, who was previously the head coach at Winthrop High for the past 11 years, said that his relationship with Durgin is one of the many reasons why he went after the St. Mary’s job.
“I have a great relationship with Matt, we’ve been good friends for years,” Driscoll said. “His glowing praise of the school and the program was one of the reasons why I put my hat in the ring.
“We had a couple tough years in a row at Winthrop, and I just felt it was time that we all needed a change,” Driscoll added. “Then the St. Mary’s job became available, and it was kind of just a right place, right time kind of thing.”
Make no mistake, Driscoll knows the situation he’s stepping into. The Spartans had an incredible run of success in the 10 years under Durgin, including two trips to state championships in the MIAA Super Bowl (2012 and 2016). They also won three North Sectional titles, and in 2016 and 2017 St. Mary’s finished the season with 11-1 records — the best in the school’s history. Overall, Durgin was 86-29 as head coach of St. Mary’s.
“I absolutely know there are high expectations, as there should be,” Driscoll said. “Matt built this program into a powerhouse that has expectations like this every year, and that’s how I prefer it. Expectations like this bring out the best in everyone.”
Now comes the fun part for Driscoll and the Spartans: working toward reaching those expectations. The team meets for the first time August 17 for conditioning work, with camp starting one week later. Driscoll has used his time wisely since being hired in March, working to get to know each of his players and making sure they’re all doing their part in the offseason as well.
“It’s been a bit different this year, being my first time coaching at a private school,” Driscoll said. “I’m a Winthrop guy, been there my whole life, and over the past 11 years I’ve really dealt with one community. Coming to St. Mary’s you’ve got a lot of different communities and backgrounds all coming together, so it takes time to get to know everyone. We’ve had a really successful strength and conditioning program over the offseason, and now we’re ready to hit the field.”
In addition to strength and conditioning, Driscoll accompanied a group of Spartans players who competed in several 7v7 competitions over the summer.
“It was good to get out there with the guys,” Driscoll said. “It’s not really football obviously, the biggest thing is just getting out there and competing, and it was good to see some of the guys doing that.”
So now, as the new season draws closer and closer, Driscoll is setting his goals for the new year.
“Every coach will say at the start of the season that they hope to go far into November, and I really think we have an opportunity to do that,” Driscoll said. “But for now, the idea is to go out and just try to get better every single day. We have a great group of upperclassmen, some really good leaders. Now it’s time to start putting everything together and go out and try to have a successful season.”