High School Football

Great Falls hires John Barrett as new football coach

Chester County School Board approved Great Falls’ hiring of John Barrett as its new football coach Tuesday night.

The 59-year-old Barrett has been a football coach 36 years. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Northwestern, his third different stint with the Trojans. Prior to that, he was an interim head coach at Clover and also the head coach at York for three years.

“My desire to be a head coach hasn’t changed much in 36 years,” said Barrett, one of 41 applicants for the Great Falls job.

The school interviewed nine candidates.

“He’s got a lot of experience as an assistant coach, head coach at two stops,” Great Falls athletics director John Smith said on Tuesday before the hiring was made official by the school board.

Barrett will teach physical education at Great Falls, one of the smallest schools in the state headed into the 2016 football season. He coached at York from 2007 to 2009, going 11-24, before taking Clover’s interim mantle after John Devine left the Blue Eagles in 2012. Barrett took over a Clover program in the midst of an alleged hazing scandal, before attempting to get the Westminster Catawba Christian football program back off the ground in 2014, an effort that failed.

After a couple of disappointments, the last three years at Northwestern seemed to have re-energized Barrett. Long a defensive coach, he focused on offense as a part of Kyle Richardson’s staff. Barrett, who has a cowboy’s voice, would be most comfortable with his team lining up toe to toe in the power-I formation. But his latest Northwestern experience showed him the benefits of a different way of playing.

“They’ve really been exciting as far as winning, but also learning the game,” Barrett said on Thursday, while driving to Great Falls. “The old dog can learn new tricks. I’m excited for this opportunity, but I’m very appreciative of Northwestern and those folks over there. They did not have to let me come hang around.”

Barrett didn’t commit to running one offense or another at Great Falls, but said that he does plan to examine the talent he has coming back to see if some version of the Air Raid could work for the Red Devils. As a defensive coach that had faced the Trojans many times with York and Clover, Barrett said he was surprised by how simple the Air Raid is to install and implement.

A spread-style offense would be a sea-change for a Red Devils program that has long employed a wing offense focused on running the football.

“We’re gonna find what they can do best and we’re gonna put that in on a smaller scale,” said Barrett. “Kids like this; it is a fun offense, if you’re able to do it. It ain’t worth a cuss if you can’t execute it.”

Barrett – who hasn’t finalized a coaching staff – made an important clarification regarding the shortage of football depth at Great Falls: the school has a numbers issue, not just the football team. That topic obviously came up when Great Falls administrators interviewed candidates for the job.

“Our questions revolved around our particular situation and how they would handle what Great Falls has to offer, the numbers situation, how you interact with the other coaches and other sports, knowing that they’ve got to play more than one sport,” said Smith.

Barrett replaces longtime Great Falls coach Kenneth Schofield, who was 118-75 in 16 seasons as the head man at Pride Valley. Schofield resigned earlier this year.