By Trevor Wilson
While there will not be much dancing or kissing on the field tonight, this old wedding adage seems apropos. As far as for the “old,” tonight will be the 57th gridiron battle between Roncalli and Bishop Chatard. The Trojans have taken the day 34 times in the past, but the teams have evenly split the last four meetings. Both squads will be “borrowing” Brebeuf Jesuit’s St. Vincent Health Field as the Braves go on the road to face Cardinal Ritter. Their conference rival was gracious enough to offer the use of their facilities (not something one sees in every conference). There will be tons of “blue” both in the stands and on the field as the Trojans don their home uniforms for the first time this season. Which brings us to the “new.” Rob Doyle and Scott Marsh are both early into their first year as the head coach for their respective schools. They are replacing legends; Vince Lorenzano and Bruce Scifres won a combined fifteen state championships. The new coaches have experienced very different roads on the way to their current positions, but share a passion for leading and molding young men. They also wholeheartedly embrace everything it means to be a part of Catholic high school football in Indianapolis.
Rob Doyle grew up in the steel city of Gary where he attended St. Mary of the Lake. His CYO football teams played their games at historic Gilroy Stadium and were undefeated from 5th through 8th grade. He then attended Andrean High School, the premier Catholic high school in the Region, located roughly 30 minutes from his home. After his time as a ‘59er, he moved on to DePauw where he continued his football career. Upon graduating, he elected to pursue law school over entering into coaching.
Scott Marsh was born and raised in Ashland, a little town of roughly 21,000 located “up the Big Sandy” in northeastern Kentucky. He never played a down of Catholic football, instead playing for his father at Ashland High. During his sophomore year, the father and son team were able to win a state title together. From there, he advanced to Morehead State, where he was named All Conference as a linebacker. He stayed on for two years as a graduate assistant before following a friend to Lakeland High School in Florida, where he served as the defensive coordinator.
Doyle began his second career by coaching basketball at St. Matthews. After a year or so, he moved on to St. Pius X. His first commission was with the 56 football team, but he soon found himself acting as the Cadet coach and football coordinator. In his spare time, he worked with the north deanery quarterbacks who attended Chatard and Cathedral. Although he was courted to join a varsity staff several times, he ultimately decided coaching freshmen football would be the best fit. He coached the Trojan freshmen teams for 13 seasons before being named the varsity head coach this past offseason. The game against Brebeuf in Week One was his first as a varsity head coach.
Marsh quickly built an impressive coaching resume. After helping to turn around the program in Lakeland, he returned home. He went to work at Ashland’s cross-county rival, Boyd County High. He was able to talk his father out of retirement, and they worked together for two seasons. He then followed his wife, Missy, to Indianapolis when she was hired as Perry Meridian’s head volleyball coach. He joined their football staff and spent two years as their defensive coordinator before moving on to Warren Central. In 2008, he was named the Head Coach at Thomas Carr Howe High School. Upon gaining some valuable experience, he was offered the same position at Perry Meridian. He spent seven years there before again following his wife to her alma mater, Roncalli, where he coordinated the defense during 2016’s impressive 15-0 run.
In many ways, Doyle and Marsh approach the game differently. Doyle’s passion lies in the passing game. He enjoys developing and teaching the finer points of route combinations. His offensive skill players are extremely well trained and execute at a high level. Marsh, conversely, loves the other side of the conflict. He prides himself in producing well prepared, disciplined, and hard-hitting defensive units. It was not surprising when each was asked about this week’s opponent, Doyle first mentioned Roncalli’s defense, and Marsh commented on Chatard’s passing game.
While these differences make for an interesting contrast, these men actually have a great deal in common when it comes to the things that really matter. When asked for the most important lesson learned during their coaching journeys, they both stated that loving their players and building lasting relationships with them needed to be the cornerstones of a successful program. “The kids have to know you care about them, that you believe in them. And you have to give them all that you got,” stated Doyle. “My father was the epitome of leadership. His players knew he loved them and cared about them. It was a tough love, but you always knew it was there,” Marsh reflected. He credits his time at Howe and Perry Meridian with providing the opportunities for growth in this regard.
Both coaches believe that culture is important. Doyle has spent a great amount of time consciously trying to prepare his players to be both physically and mentally tough. He has striven to create an expectation of success borne of effort and sacrifice. His staff has constantly reminded their players that results are “Earned, Not Given.” There has been an effort to cultivate a sense of family and shared values from the top of the program down through the north deanery feeder schools.
Marsh echoed these thoughts. The education of both the Roncalli players and new coaches as to “what it means to play south side Catholic football” has been a focal point. To that end, past players and coaches have been brought in to share their thoughts and experiences. The past has been embraced in an effort to create a palpable bond between the successes and strengths of years gone by with the current program as it moves forward. The common threads of selflessness, playing with honor, and being extremely physical have been focal points.
When Roncalli and Bishop Chatard square off for the 57th time, there will be a lot of familiar sights and sounds. The parking lot will be full of competing tailgates, and the bleachers will be hemorrhaging with loud and proud student sections. On the field, punishing gang-tackling will rule the day, and playmakers will still be making big plays. Rest assured that while the sidelines may be filled with new faces, not much will have changed about the pride and traditions of these storied programs. They are still the foundations upon which success will be built.
By Trevor Wilson