DRACUT —Jordan Murphy knows his way around the Merrimack Valley Conference without any need of a compass.
Dracut High School’s new head football coach is young, ambitious and knowledgeable. Murphy, 28, owns a 2008 MIAA Super Bowl ring from his playing days at Dracut. His strengths as a two-way standout at tight end and linebacker were his preparation and his intensity. He will continue to rely on these traits while calling the shots on the Middies’ sideline this fall.
This is Murphy’s first head coaching job. He has served as an assistant at the high school level and a graduate assistant in college. Murphy can’t wait to hold his first official practice as Dracut’s head coach on Friday, Aug. 16. The Middies will host Westford Academy in their non-league season opener on Friday, Sept. 13.
“It’s still kind of surreal right now,” said Murphy. “I just graduated from Dracut High ten years ago, 2009, and here I am the head coach. It’s funny how it’s all come back full-circle. Dracut is where it all started for me football-wise, being able to go to college and play football and get a degree.
“Football has done so much for me and being able to come back to Dracut and pass along the knowledge and experiences to the players here is something I’m looking forward to. Really, coaching here is perfect in how it all ties together. There’s no place else I’d rather be in this role as a head football coach.”
Murphy is the nephew of former Dracut head football coach, Pat Murphy, who is now the offensive coordinator at Holy Cross. He is not related to legendary former Middie head coach, Ed Murphy, who was in charge of the Dracut program for 48 seasons (1946-93) and won 11 league championships.
“I know there is a long-standing tradition here of Murphys and Dracut football,” said Murphy. “I’m definitely going to try to do my best to keep the Murphy name in good terms when it comes to coaching football here.”
Murphy played at Ayer High as a freshman and sophomore. He spent his junior and senior years in high school at Dracut. His senior season, Murphy was an all-around force on a Middie club that won the MVC title in 2008 and beat Marshfield, 27-0, in the Eastern Massachusetts Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. In the Super Bowl, Murphy hauled in six receptions for 82 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Matt Grimard.
“We had a great group of guys,” said Murphy, who lives in Ayer. “We must have had 12 to 15 kids off that team that went on to play college football. There were some incredible athletes on that team. Just a really talented group.”
After a post-grad year at Bridgton Academy in Maine, Murphy attended Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida on a football scholarship. Murphy was a four-year starter at tight end and helped Bethune-Cookman qualify for the FCS playoffs three times.
“Playing there was a great experience,” said Murphy, whose father, Shawn, played football at Northeastern and UMass Lowell. “I played against Florida State the year they won the national championship. I played against the University of Miami. I got a chance to play some high-level football.”
Murphy coached one season at Gardner High. Then returned to Bethune-Cookman where he served as a graduate assistant, coaching the offensive line and quarterbacks, for two seasons while earning his masters degree.
Now Murphy has returned to his roots. The Middies advanced to the MIAA Division 4 North Sectional semifinals last fall where they lost to Wayland in double-overtime. Although Dracut was hard-hit by graduation, Murphy is confident the Middies will build on last year’s success. He has been impressed by the work ethic and performance displayed by the players at team work outs and in a 7-on-7 passing league.
“I’ve been preaching to these guys in the summer, and all through the spring, about effort, attitude and toughness,” said Murphy. “I like to use the acronym EAT. Every day you wake up you have to eat. Bring maximum effort, a positive attitude and mental toughness to everything you do, and you’ll be successful. And that’s not just on the football field, but life in general and in the classroom.”
Murphy is eager to go back to the future and begin adding to the Middies’ long tradition of success in football.
“I’m just ecstatic to be back here at Dracut High,” said Murphy. “Being a new head coach there is a lot of stuff that has to be done that you don’t realize being an assistant. I’ll be learning as I go here.
“The one thing I have learned is to be myself. I played for a lot of really good coaches. I was able to coach along side a lot of really good coaches. I tried to take a little bit from every coach. But the one thing I’m not going to do is try and be somebody I’m not. I’m not going to mimic another coach. I have to be myself and rely on my own coaching philosophies.”
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi