Mike Morrissey may have had the most head-coaching experience among the Moline assistant football coaches on staff when Mike Tracey resigned after two seasons in November.
But he did not take that for granted when he applied to be the Maroons' new head coach.
The 34-year-old Pleasant Valley grad came armed with a packet for the committee. And it wasn’t about coaching five playoff teams in six seasons as a head coach or having a 30-32 career record.
Yes, Morrissey wants to get to the playoffs and build on the Maroons’ football tradition. And yes, Morrissey plans to pass more than Moline typically has over the years and take a lot more snaps in shotgun formation.
But he also presented those interviewing him with a packet about other things he has done with his past teams.
“We have an offseason challenge we do to get our kids involved in things,” said Morrissey, who was officially approved by the Moline School Board on Monday as its new head football coach. Morrissey already teaches physical education at the school and assisted on the staff in this his first season there.
“We will sit down with our kids this week and draft our teams,” Morrissey said of one of his plans he wanted to get across in his interview.
Teams will get points for a player being out for another sport, for good grades, for going to other events at the school, including non-athletic events such as an art exhibit, Morrissey said.
“There’s little things we do that we try to build character. Everybody plays because they want to win. That’s a given. We won’t talk about the winning and losing type of thing,” he said. “We will talk about giving your best effort and being the best person you can be and doing things to the best of your ability.
“That’s really what we want to get across to the guys,” he explained. “If we can do that, then this team will be something that this community can be proud of and you are going to see that result go on to everything else in their lives. That’s really the big picture of high school athletics.”
On the field, Morrissey said he plans to retain all current coaches on staff but will add some volunteers. There could be some staff reshuffling, he added. Morrissey will run a pro-style offense which utilizes spread formations.
Morrissey expects his dad, Ed Morrissey, the longtime former Pleasant Valley head coach, to remain on staff at United Township, which is coached by Mike’s younger brother, Joe.
Mike Morrissey played quarterback for his dad at PV, leading the Spartans to the playoffs in 1999 and 2000.
He was a four-year varsity quarterback at Upper Iowa University, graduating in 2006 before earning a master’s degree in physical education from Rockford College in 2009.
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Morrissey has six years of head-coaching experience, with stops at Thornridge High School, Cedar Rapids Prairie and Desert Mountain High School in Arizona. Morrissey went 19-22 in four years at Prairie, making the playoffs in each of his last three years.
Desert Mountain finished 6-5 in 2015 under Morrissey, who had an offensive coordinator by the name of Kurt Warner, the former NFL quarterback whose son was a star receiver on the team.
Warner is unlikely to join Morrissey’s staff at Moline, despite Morrissey letting him know there are beautiful houses in Coal Valley.
Morrissey left Arizona after one season and returned to the area last year to teach PE and assist in football at Moline to be closer to his family and because of the cost of living in Arizona.
Morrissey is believed to be the only in-house candidate who applied, and Moline never opened it up outside.
“Mike is energetic, focused, and enthusiastic about coaching football,” Moline athletic director Todd Rosenthal said in a statement. “Moline High School is excited to give Coach Morrissey an opportunity to lead the Moline Football program in 2017.”
Morrissey is thrilled to be at Moline, where he plans to stay for a long time.
“I was optimistic and hopeful that I would get this opportunity,” Morrissey said. “And we have such a great administrative group of principal, assistant principal, athletic director and people that are supportive. It’s a really great job and a great community. I am just really anxious to get started.”