Coach McLaughlin Prepares for 1st Season
Coach Pat McLaughlin is not in the most envious position. He has taken over a football program that has won the state championship an unprecedented three years in a row. Fans have gotten used to being in the playoffs and advancing far. One might think there is nowhere to go but down.
McLaughlin doesn't see it that way. He recently told Lance McAlister, "I don't look on it as pressure, I look on it as a challenge; the La Salle kids have been receptive. I think they bought into the message. They know what it takes to be successful. Maybe I can add on to that."
In the same vein, he earlier told the Enquirer, ""It's a great time (to be joining La Salle)". "(Principal) Aaron Marshall and (athletic director) Keith Pantling, what they've done with the program and the vision they have for the school, the football program, and just the school in general and the academic part of it. It just seems like La Salle is doing a lot of things right now to garner attention and football seems to be a part of it and I look to just continue to add onto the tradition."
La Salle graduated 1st team GCL All-Stars defensive back Da'Meak Brandon, offensive lineman Nate Pierce, defensive back TreSean Smith, running back Christian Turner, linebacker Jarell White and kicker Paul Young.
They return 1st team GCL All Stars linebacker Brody Ingle, quarterback Griffin Merritt, linebacker Zach Rumpke, and tight end Josh Whyle.
Pat was a quarterback at Moeller before playing the same position for the Dayton Flyers. After college he took a football job as a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis, while working on obtaining his master's degree. He was in charge of linebackers and defensive backs. He realized he wanted to be a coach when he became aware his football career was coming to an end.
At first he wanted to be a college coach, but he "didn't like the rat race, the moving and the traveling around".When he got married and had a son he knew he wanted to be a high school coach, so he went on to become an assistant football coach at Haywood High School in Tennessee.
He returned to Moeller as an assistant before getting the head-coaching job at Reading High School. In 2015 he was named Cincinnati Hills league Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Blue Devils to the playoffs.
After spending two years at Reading, McLaughlin moved on to Princeton High School. The Vikings, once a powerhouse football school, had fallen on hard times. In his first year Princeton had a winning record [6-4], their first since 2011. In three seasons as a head coach before coming to La Salle, McLaughlin was 19-11.
Pat is married and has four kids, with the oldest being 10.
When asked who had the most influence on him as a coach he replied, "I don't know if I can say one coach was the biggest influence on me. I've taken bits and pieces from all of the coaches I've been around, whether it is former Memphis Coach West, my uncle who is the head coach at Memphis, coach Klonne, or coach Cameron and Coach Kelly at Dayton.
Pat doesn't consider himself exclusively an offensive or a defensive coach even though he played quarterback in high school and college. He commented, "When I went to Memphis probably one of the best things that happened to me was they put me on the defensive side of the ball. I was a graduate assistant working with the defensive backs for a year and the linebackers for two years, which helped me learn defenses and what they were trying to do. I had always been an offensive guy. My specialty has been working with quarterbacks and running the offense."
When McLaughin was asked if he was bringing any coaches with him he replied, "It will be about half and half. Coach Heidorn, coach Doerger , coach Volker and coach Canning, who is a graduate are staying and a couple of lower level coaches are staying as well. I brought in Bret Schneibert, who is a '91 graduate. I brought in Jay Road as defensive coordinator. He has been at Mariemont, La Salle, Elder and Colerain where he played football. Cody Reardon and Rob Taylor are coming with me from Princeton."
"Cody Reardon will be the offensive coordinator. He was with me at Reading and was offensive coordinator at Princeton. Jay Road will be the defensive coordinator."
"We will be no huddle up-tempo, probably playing a little faster than last year. We will spread them out and throw the ball down the field a little more than they did last year. We want to play fast."
Pat said, "We are changing the defense a little bit. We are going to be a 3-4 defense. The last two years they were an even front, 4-2-5. I think we have a lot more linebacker and safety type of bodies, and not as many defensive linemen. That is what Jay [Road] has always been, an odd front guy or a 3-4 guy. I think that fits our personnel really well."
Coach McLaughin said, "I'm starting to learn it. Once we get out there and start practicing we might have to move some pieces around. We relied on the coaches that were here to put guys in the right spots. We have moved kids around a little bit especially defensively.
"We have good kids, good leadership in the senior class. I think we will be a physical group that will compete at a high level. We got to figure out if we need to move anyone else around and we got to stay healthy. Right now I want our kids to play only one side of the ball. Our schedule is very physical and it would be very hard to make it going both ways."
"Griffin Merritt will get the first crack at quarterback. He was a starter last year. He is smart and he is learning the offense pretty quickly. He is a leader. We also have Drew Nieman who also looks good."
"We have a good group of running backs. The leader right now is Cameron Porter. Although he is only a sophomore, he is definitely a leader on our team."
Pat McLaughlin is the 4th head football coach in the last 6 years. La Salle definitely needs some stability. McLaughlin commented on that, "I definitely plan to be around for a long time. I'm a GCL guy and I would love for my kids to go here. My ultimate goal was to always get back in the GCL. I will stay here as long as you will have me."