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Famous Coach Takes Over SMCHS Football Team
by: Amanda Corronado
Principal Ray Dunne, Coach Harry Welch, and Rich Schaaf.
Principal Ray Dunne, Coach Harry Welch, and Rich Schaaf.

Santa Margarita Catholic High School announces selection of Harry Welch as the school’s Head Varsity Football Coach.

Welch has won eight Southern Section championships, three at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano and five at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita. During his past three years at St. Margaret’s he led the football team to a Southern Section title each season. He is the only coach in the state to have won state titles at two different schools.

Welch was selected by a committee at SMCHS comprised of administrators and faculty.

“We are honored and very excited that Coach Welch will be taking over the Eagle football program,” said SMCHS Principal Ray Dunne. “He brings a tradition of success on the football field and in life. Without question, he will be a Catholic-Christian role model for all of our student-athletes.”

Welch has been coaching for 36 years amassing a record of 222-49-2, which includes a 46-game winning streak, eight CIF titles, a Division 1 CIF State Football Championship in 2006 and a second CIF state championship in 2008 in the Small School Division. In 2007, he was named Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association, an organization that includes high school, college and NFL coaches. In 2009, The Orange County Review named Welch Coach of the Year. The Los Angeles Daily News recently selected Welch as the football coach of the decade.

“It is an honor and a privilege to join the Santa Margarita Catholic High School community,” Welch said. “I recognize Santa Margarita as one of the finest opportunities for a football coach in America. I hope to bring the intensity, commitment, enthusiasm and execution to Santa Margarita that has been the hallmark of my team’s in the past.”

Santa Margarita Catholic plays in the Trinity League, a highly competitive group of seven schools in the Orange County area, touted by many as the toughest football league in the country.

In the school’s 22-year history, the Eagles’ football team has brought home two CIF championships and captured four league titles. The program has produced exceptional standouts at both the collegiate and professional levels. Athletes include Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer, NFL quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals; Brian Finneran, who plays for the Atlanta Falcons and was the recipient of the Walter Payton award as a senior at Villanova University, given to the nation's top Division 1-AA offensive player; and Kris Farris, who while playing for UCLA, won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best United States college football interior lineman.

Santa Margarita’s athletic program includes 13 sports with 24 CIF-sanctioned teams. SMCHS also offers club sports including ice hockey, roller hockey and equestrian. Emphasis is placed on learning lifelong skills through athletics such as teamwork, responsibility and character development. Participation is encouraged with more than 70 percent of the student body involved in athletics.

“We are very lucky to have Harry head up our football program and I look forward to working with him,” said Athletic Director Rich Schaaf. “His years of success and extensive coaching experience will definitely be an asset to our program.”

Welch replaces Mike Jacot who resigned in December. Jacot will stay on as the school’s first strength and conditioning coordinator working with coaches and athletes in the new state-of-art fitness center/weight room in the Eagle Athletic Center, a 39,000 square-foot facility set to open in March.

Jacot was 38-38 during his seven seasons with the Eagles. In 2006, Jacot was named Coach of the Year by both the Orange County Register and LA Times.

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