You can remove the interim tag from the title of Tommy Connors at Archbishop Shaw.
The former Eagle star has been chosen as the permanent new head football coach at his alma mater, chosen from a pool of up to 50 candidates by Shaw principal Father Lou Molinelli, athletic director Tom Alef and a search committee of 10 participants.
Most recently, Connors had served as defensive coordinator under Scott Bairnsfather after playing for Bairnsfather. Connors was elevated to Interim head coach when Bairnsfather resigned on Jan. 13.. Bairnsfather served 15 years as the head coach at his alma mater. Bairnsfather subsequently became the new offensive coordinator at Jesuit under Mark Songy, accepting the position on Jan. 23.
“First and foremost, it’s just humbling to have the opportunity,” Connors said. “You count your blessings. It is a blessing from God to go to work everyday and work as hard as you can at a place that means so much to me. Hopefully, it takes you on the right path in life and I’m very happy with the path it’s taken me on.”
Connors has been an assistant for Bairnsfather for the past six years, the last two as defensive coordinator. He graduated from Shaw in 2006 as an outstanding defensive back, earning all-district and all-metro honors at safety in 2004 and all-state honors in 2005. He went to play at Southeastern Louisiana, where he earned All-American honors in 2009.
“I feel like the experience the last six years has helped me prepare for the job,” Connors said. “Scott has been a huge influence. He is unquestionably a great coach, X’s and O’s wise and a great team manager. We were always well prepared, both when I played and in coaching with him. He was an unquestioned leader with a strong personality.”
Under Bairnsfather, the Eagles reached the Class 4A final in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Most recently, the Eagles have struggled to compete in the always difficult Catholic League as school enrollment and football numbers have decreased annually. Connors feels he understands what it will take to return to prominence.
“To get the kids interested in football on the West Bank to know that we will do things the right way,” Connors said. “If you want to be great at football and do things the right way and become a man, Shaw is the right place to go. This is a school that has enjoyed great success with 20 district titles in 50 years. We have played in six state championship games. We certainly don’t lack tradition.”
Connors has been instrumental in the Eagles’ strength program as well. He becomes just the fourth head coach in the last 49 years of the program, following Joe Zimmerman, Hank Tierney and Bairnsfather. Connors believes strongly that Shaw can win again.
“We were 0-10 my first year as a player and as a senior, we went undefeated,” Connors said. “I would never have taken the job if I did not think we could win here. We have to find our niche.”
Statement from Shaw Director/Principal, Fr. Lou Molinelli
I am happy to welcome Mr. Tommy Connors as the head football coach at Archbishop Shaw High School. As an alumnus of Archbishop Shaw, Mr. Connors has the passion and zeal of a Catholic and Salesian educator who will continue to bring the young men of our school to the fullness of their talents and potential (Read more from Fr. Molinelli on the hiring of Connors here).
Statement from Shaw Athletic Director, Tom Alef
Tommy Connors is an extremely dedicated and hard working football coach. I look forward to working alongside Tommy as he begins a new era in Shaw football. He will perpetuate the long line of legendary coaches we’ve had over the past forty years. I’m excited for him, and with him, as he is very eager to get his program off and running.
Statement from Tommy Connors
Archbishop Shaw has had a very positive influence in my life. It is an honor to be named Head Coach for a school that has won a state championship and 20 district championships during its 50-year tenure.
Personally, I feel humbled and blessed. I want to thank Fr. Lou Molinelli, Tom Alef, and the others who were involved in this decision. The opportunity to work for my Alma Mater in this role has been a goal of mine since I decided to become a teacher and a coach at the high school level. The Shaw community has been very supportive and is a huge motivating factor moving forward.
In speaking with my team this morning, we discussed the expectations that come with being a Shaw football player. We understand that our school and football schedule is set for the 2017-2018 school year, and we intend to make the most out of every day to ensure that we are prepared for August.