Murray Fetzer was an assistant coach for the Wolves last season, but he’s a new head coach to the area this season. So, we decided to get to know Fetzer a little better — and find out what fans can expect out of St. Joseph’s in 2017 and beyond.
Check out our Q&A below:
Q: You’re the third head coach at St. Joseph’s in three years. So tell me, first off, why was it important for you take this job — and what’s the advantage with you coming in and already knowing these kids?
A: I love coaching, that’s No. 1. I love coaching kids, and I think the most important thing you can do is show kids examples and be there for them and do things the right way. And coaching with the two coaches last year, the continuity with me staying I felt was critical with these seniors who have been through a couple of systems. So we kept everything the same, pretty much. Expectations are the same. The offensive philosophy coming in was critical — for success and for building on something that already has a foundation.
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Q: You mentioned the philosophy staying the same. What kind of philosophy is that?
A: The offensive philosophy for us really depends on the guys that are out. So we adapt our philosophy depending on the kids that we have. And sometimes we can go power, and sometimes we can go spread — depending on the personnel. So we did it last year, and we’re doing it again this year. Seeing what the kids were good at and what they liked, I just want to build off that this year. And we have some excellent leaders, some excellent athletes so, with the packages we had last year, we just extended it out and added to it to reflect our players’ specialties and skills. We just have to get some of these kids experience.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge so far as the St. Joseph’s coach, and what’s been the biggest reward?
A: I don’t know if you want to call it a challenge; I like to call it an opportunity. Our numbers are low, but we have 20 kids now — we just had two kids come out. That’s the most we’ve had at St. Joe’s. So we have a core of guys, 10-12 guys, who know what they’re doing. And they’re basically putting their arm around these guys and bringing them along as quickly as possible. And it’s been very rewarding for me as coach to see these seniors embrace these young guys. ... So that in itself is really rewarding because the kids have a vested interest in the success not just of this year but with the program.
Q: What are the expectations for St. Joseph’s this season?
A: I told the kids that the expectation this year is we want to compete in any game. The foundation of anything is to compete. So we want to build a competitive program, and we want to progress each and every day, and we want to enjoy the experience. We want to have fun, and we want the kids to have fun out there and take away something. Do we have expectations this year? Absolutely. We don’t go out and expect to lose. But, at the end of the day, these kids really have to get better, compete, progress and enjoy the experience. And, moving forward, that’s the foundation of the program. We will build a great program doing those things.
Q: One one hand, you lost about 10 guys from last season. On the other hand, you also gained about 10-12 guys. Do you kind of look at that in a glass half-full kind of way?
A: Certainly. Anytime you can lose 10 guys — a lot of them started — anytime you can do that, you’ve got to look at the glass half-full when you get another 10 guys. And you got these veterans that are still there that say, “Hey, you’re part of us now. We’re all together. We’re one group.” And that makes it exciting for the young guys. They’re not alone. We’ve got a buddy system — not just in football but in school and in the classroom, hallway and field.
Q: You’ve got several impressive athletes on your team. At quarterback, Brendan Robinson is definitely an exciting player to watch. What is it that makes him so effective to you guys, and how important has he been to this team?
A: First of all, he’s critically important. He’s the heartbeat of the team; he’s the quarterback. Everyone looks to him for leadership, and he has been fantastic since Day 1 — embracing kids, showing kids what to do, helping kids along. Those are the qualities of a leader, of a champion, of someone you want to be with. No. 2, as an athlete, he has the intangibles. He’s not just a quarterback who hands it off and throws it — he runs the show on the field. He’s the general, and kids respond to that. I couldn’t be prouder of him.
Q: Let’s reverse course a little bit: I’m sure if we asked about your players’ favorite NFL stars, we’d get a lot of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning answers. Who was your favorite player growing up?
A: I loved Joe Montana. Now, I’m in the 80s, so I was a Montana guy. I liked Joe’s leadership; he never got ruffled. They were down 10, 15, they were OK. He was always cool, calm and collected and led his team down the field in the Super Bowl against Cincinnati. He just did it with a quiet, cool confidence. And that’s what I see in Brendan. It’s just that confidence and, when you have those qualities in an athlete, that’s a tremendous springboard for your offense.
Q: One final question, Murray. It might be a few years before St. Joseph’s starts competing for championships. So what is the biggest hurdle to long-term success here — and how do you overcome that obstacle?
A: The biggest hurdle is making sure the program grows and continues to grow with the transition of kids. ... You need to continue to build the program from the foundation up. You’re just not going to get a bunch of athletes coming in as seniors. You’ve got to build — building toward a philosophy, growing as a unit, school and team. That’s how you’re going to build a championship program. That’s our goal; let’s get a foundation going and move forward with that.
St. Joseph’s 2017 Football Schedule
Fri., Aug. 25: vs. Bucktail, 7 p.m. (Memorial Field)
Fri. Sept. 1: at Fairfield, 7 p.m. (at Fairfield High School)
Fri., Sept. 8: vs. Perkiomen, 4 p.m. (Bishop Guilfoyle)
Fri., Sept. 22: at Bucktail, 7 p.m. (Dwyer Memorial Field)
Fri., Oct. 6: at Halifax, 7 p.m. (Halifax Area Athletic Field)
Sat., Oct. 14: vs. Col-Mon Vo-Tech, Time TBD (Memorial Field)
Fri., Oct. 20: at Nativity BVM, 7 p.m. (St. Clair Veterans Memorial Stadium)
Sat., Oct. 28: vs. Philipsburg-Osceola, 5 p.m. (Memorial Field)