When John Carroll athletic director Jerry O'Brien hired Bill Mackley for his second tour of duty as the Patriots football coach, O'Brien knew his school wasn't getting a non-faculty coach who would show up from August to November and forget where the school was in the off-season.
O'Brien has seen the enthusiasm Mackley can bring to not only a football program but to an entire school and community, and it was that commitment that made the decision to bring Mackley aboard a no-brainer.
"We were sorry to lose Bill when we did, but we're just as happy to have him back," said O'Brien. "He surrounds himself with good people and gets totally involved with the school. He's not on staff, but he gets involved with the students, attends school events and becomes totally committed to the school."
His dedication paid off during his first stint at John Carroll. While at the controls from 1982 to 1987, Mackley's Pats had six straight winning seasons and a 41-19 record.
Mackley enjoyed some success at Calvert Hall. His Cardinals went 9-2 and were ranked No. 2 in the metro area in his third season in 1991, but before he left in 1993, his record had plummeted to 31-32.
Mackley takes some of the blame for Calvert Hall's decline but is convinced his teams could have fared better with stronger administrative support.
"You can't go out on the field with your hands tied behind your back and expect to win a football game," said Mackley, who cited a new business commitment as his reason for stepping down as the Cardinals coach in 1993.
"John Carroll has supported me to no end. The faculty and administration see something good happening here. The enthusiasm is there and the kids are proud to say 'I go to John Carroll,' and that's been missing."
And so were the post-game celebrations.
The Patriots went 2-8 last season, nothing to get excited about.
One year later, the Pats (2-2) are looking to reverse last year's record and planning to make a run at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference crown.
"This season has been a welcomed change, but it hasn't been a surprise," said John Carroll junior quarterback Brad Meerholz.
"We expected to do well with the new coaching staff. We're all trying to put our school on the map, like it was during Coach Mackley's first tour of duty here."
On Sept. 30, Mackley and his hand-picked staff of assistants, including Mel Filler, Tim Perry, Vince Morisi and John Welsch, helped the Patriots pull off a 35-7 upset of defending B Conference champion Severn.
Mackley called the win over the then-13th-ranked Admirals "one of the major wins for the school since 1987."
"We're starting a new winning tradition here at John Carroll, and I wouldn't want to be a part of any other program," said senior tight end/free safety Ryan Stangle.
"We have a winning spirit and unlike last year, we know we can win and we're not expecting anything else but to win."
While the victory over Severn showed the Patriots that they can beat a quality opponent, last week's loss to St. Paul's reminded them of what can happen when they come out flat.
"We all wanted to get on a winning track after last season and we all may have gotten a little cocky after beating Severn, but we learned our lesson at St. Paul's," said senior lineman Steve Stewart.
"We've had a couple setbacks this season, but overall we're playing better and we have a winning attitude. We're playing more as a unit, and most importantly, we think we can win."