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Ryan coach ready to get started with new staff

Billy Murphy (center) believes he’s put together a great staff to lead the Archbishop Ryan football team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Billy Murphy just wanted to take in his son’s baseball game.

It changed everything.

Murphy was watching his son play at Archbishop Ryan High School and found himself sitting near school president Mike Barnett while the Raiders football team was working out nearby.

“I said to myself, ‘Don’t look over, don’t look over,’ because I knew I’d want to get involved,” said Murphy, a 1996 graduate of Father Judge High School who now lives in Chalfont, around the corner from Ryan. “I’ve always loved football and I’ve coached before, but I wasn’t planning on doing anything.

“We got to talking and I told him I coached, and I told him I’d like to help. He said he’d ask. I came to Ryan because I brought my son here because I know it’s a great school. I didn’t plan any of this, but I’m all in. I love it here.”

Murphy, who was the interim football coach for most of last year, has lost the interim title and is officially the head coach of the program.

There’s work to do.

Ryan didn’t win a game this fall, but it’s hard to judge the team based off the fall. The season got off to a late start because of coronavirus, the same reason the team was unable to have any official weight-training program since March. Still, Murphy liked what he saw during his time as the head coach and believes good things are on the horizon.

“We have great kids who really bought in, and they’re working so hard,” Murphy said. “People will say it’s numbers, but the numbers are there. We just have to get confidence and learn things about the game. Once they do that, and that can happen quickly, we’re going to be very competitive.

“I’m realistic. I think we have a great mix of kids. We only had four seniors leave. Now it’s a matter of building interest. We have to stay in the community, go to youth games, we have to get people to know the mentality, it’s changing. We need to build interest in the program. It has great tradition.”

And to do that, he tapped into the past, bringing back former players and coaches from Ryan, and others from around the Catholic League.

“The new coaches have Catholic League ties,” Murphy said of his new staff, which includes 13 assistants. “A lot knew me from when I played (at Judge). When I was building a staff, I wanted a good mix of old-school and new-school coaches. I got a lot of guys who have 30-, 35-plus years experience. It will help having a good mix. The old-school knockout style and with the way the game changed, new school.

“I wanted the old Ryan football mentality, but with a new-school twist. We’re going to preach discipline, but we’re going to make it fun. We took some lumps last year but I watched them battle. By the end of the year, we were down seven or eight starters and nobody threw in the towel.”

The new staff consists of Joe Lawinski as the offensive coordinator, Lee Marvel IV as the defensive coordinator, Lee Marvel III as the linebacker coach, Rob Moore as the run game coordinator, Frank McFillin as the offensive line coach, Imani Bell Sr. as the defensive line coach, Ken O’Connell as the pass game coordinator, Justin McConnell as the tight end coach, Mike Morgan as the receivers coach, Blake Morgan as the defensive line coach, Tony Vargas as the assistant offensive line coach, Charles Gary as the special teams coach and Jake Tarlini as the defensive backs coach.

“My goal was to bring in some great old coaches that were part of the glory days, who were here when Ryan was at its prime and have them teach the history of the program,” Murphy said. “They’re so respected. I did research on them, and everyone spoke so highly of them.

“Joe Lawinski coached me at Judge. Rob Moore played with me at Widener. The Ryan guys beat me up in high school, I know they’re good. And Imani Bell? He played at Penn State. He knows what he’s talking about. These are the guys you want around the program.

“Lee Marvel has been at Penn Charter and he’s with the Little Quakers. It’s a huge asset, knowing his family heritage. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree with him. These guys will teach kids.”

Murphy believes the future is bright, but he was quick to point out that the past was pretty good, too.

Even though last year’s squad didn’t win a game, he was proud of what they did and believes their efforts will be felt.

“The five seniors we had last year were great,” Murphy said. “There weren’t a lot of seniors, but they were great leaders and what they did this year will help us. They were great.”

But now it’s on to the future, and Murphy believes everything the team is doing will pay off in the fall.

“A lot of them are working out in groups together, other places,” Murphy said. “I set up workouts, they’re videoing them and sending them in. We are seeing them change on a biweekly basis. They are lifting, working out, conditioning. They’re working out and they’re working safer, together.

“I’m excited. Next year our schedule is we play Lower Moreland, get another shot at them, and then Father Judge, and then it’s the league. I’m at the school nonstop. I’m always there. I’m ready to go. I’m so excited.”

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