AYER — For the third time in four years, there will be a new coach patrolling the sidelines of Ayer Shirley Regional High School’s Harold E. Norton Field.

Ayer Shirley athletic director Jon Sweeney announced before the school committee meeting on April 15 that Philip Marchengiani is the school’s new head football coach.

Marchengiani has a coaching resume of more than 25-years with a brief stop as defensive coordinator at nearby Fitchburg State University on the list.

The Boxboro resident is no stranger to the storied history of Ayer football. He remembers being in the stands at Holy Cross’s Fitton Field with his wife, who graduated from Ayer High School in 1979, watching the famed Morris brothers slice up the Bulldog defense in the 1980 Division 2 Super Bowl. The Panthers went on to win that game to the tune of 50-0.

“My sister grew up across the street from the high school,” Marchengiani said. “My mother-in-law lives in Shirley with my sister-in-law and my nephew.

I am very familiar with the area. I coordinated the defense at Assabet for the last two seasons — our defense played better the second year, but both seasons we made the playoffs.”

Long gone are those days of triumph for Panthers football, but Marchengiani hopes to restore pride in a program that’s been spinning its tires in recent years.

The seasoned coach was the lead man at Marian High School in Framingham for 22 years. Marion had hit rock bottom and had not fielded a winning season in 15 years, when he took over the head job in 1990.

While at Marian, Marchengiani’s teams were 3-3 in Super Bowl appearances.

“It took us a couple of years to get the team to where we wanted it to be,” he said of his time at Marian. “The situation when I briefly met with the kids, is I don’t know about the past. The focus we have is in three areas: we need to craft a vision statement as a team and a list of core values. We haven’t gotten to that point, yet.”

Marchengiani hopes to bring some structure to the Ayer Shirley football program. The core values and mission statement are the template that the veteran coach and his staff look to utilize to create a successful environment for the athletes.

Sweeney is happy to have the longtime coach on his staff.

“He sort of just fell into our laps,” Sweeney said. “He is a good fit because he is nearing retirement, and he wants to continue coaching when he retires. He is a seasoned vet who won’t be shopping around for a job in a year. Phil is a hard-nosed coach, who takes a no nonsense approach to the game.”

Marchengiani teaches physical education at Quinn Middle School in Hudson.

“We plan on running a study hall for the guys for at least 40-45 minutes after school four days a week,” the coach said. “When you stop and look at it, at some point their investment begins. For us to put an emphasis on anything before academics and the core values is making a big mistake.”

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