Darrell Angleton always wanted to be a head football coach. Now he has his chance.
Angleton, 50, has been named the head football coach at Marquette Catholic High School. The Roxana graduate said it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
“Football has always been a big part of my life,” said Angleton, appointed as interim head coach for the 2015 season to replace Matt Bucher. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited about it.”
Bucher, a Marquette grad, took over as head coach in 2013 and directed the Explorers to a 12-7 record the past two seasons. They qualified for the playoffs his first season and barely missed getting in during a 5-4 season last fall.
When Bucher, a teacher at the school, announced his resignation late last month to pursue a job as financial services director in business development for a privately held company, it created a coaching vacancy.
“It wasn’t expected,” Angleton said of Bucher’s departure. “We will miss Matt and his influence on the program.”
That opened the door for Angleton, who figured he could be a good fit. The Explorers concurred.
“Coach Angleton puts a tremendous amount of time into the Marquette program — and more importantly — he has a knack coaching student athletes,” Explorers’ director of athletics Sara Ulrich said.
His enthusiasm comes naturally. Angleton learned the game playing football for coaches Charlie Raich and Bill Smith at Roxana. He paid his dues coaching the Alton Renegades in youth football for a decade.
Then he joined Bucher’s staff two years ago and became familiar with the way the Explorers do things. He became a convert.
“There’s good tradition at Marquette,” said Angleton, who owns the Alton-based Herlacher Angleton Associates LLC, an environmental engineering consulting firm. “The program has quality and the players are quality kids.”
He senses the transition from assistant to head coach will be a smooth one. All of the Marquette assistants return and Angleton is counting on them to contribute in a cohesive manner.
“We shouldn’t miss a beat,” Angleton said.
Bob Baird will serve as defensive coordinator. Johnny Aguirre will team with Angleton to run the offense and Bobby Tonsor will work with the quarterbacks. Jay Stemm is in charge of the linemen and Robert Stephan is cast as the special teams’ coach. Ryan Johnson will serve as the JV coach for the Explorers.
“It helped that Matt created a system that we can use,” Angleton said. “Generally, I was the offensive coordinator for Matt and we ran a spread-based offense.”
Marquette could feature an explosive attack this season. Quarterback Trey Aguirre, running backs Brady McAfee, Brock Terry and Liam Maher, plus receiver Jesse Simmons, could ignite them. Two-way lineman San Dooling also should be a major factor in the Explorers’ success.
“Our goals are to win the Prairie State Conference, get into the playoffs and win some games in the 4A playoffs — if we are in that class,” Angleton said. “We expect to have eight seniors, 15 juniors and a lot of sophomores. We are really happy with those numbers.”
He pointed out, “We did lose four seniors and they were all quality kids. So they will be hard to replace.”
On defense, look for the Explorers to employ various defenses, Angleton indicated. “The 4-4 will be our base, but we will use a 4-3 or 3-5 defense,” he said.
Angleton is the 14th head coach in school grid history, dating to 1927. The others are: Doc Coleman (1927-31), Cecil Muellerliele (1932-33), Joe Stephan (1934-39 and 1941-54), Norman Tomlinson (1940), Ron Holtman (1955-65), John Rogers (1966-83), John Waters (1984-93), Mike Slaughter (1994-2002), Geoff Dalton (2003-04), Tom Pagliaro (2005-06), Rick Reinhart (2007), Tim Nelson (2008-12) and Bucher.
Marquette finished second in the Class 3A playoffs 33 years ago, when they won 12 games, a school record. The Explorers won 10 games in 1987, 2002 and 2012. They had unbeaten seasons in 1943, 1949 and 1973.
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