HARWICH ─ The Monomoy football program has seen its fair share of changes in recent years, which is why players, parents, and fans will likely be glad to see a familiar face on the sidelines this coming season. Paul “Spanky” Demanche, a man who comes with a long history of local football, will once again don the coach's cap after being named the new head of Monomoy football.
If the name seems familiar, it is because Demanche is not only a former athletic director for the former Harwich High School, but was also the Rough Riders' football coach. During Monomoy's 2015 season, Demanche also served as a volunteer assistant coach and has established relationships with many of the players.
Demanche said he's not only thrilled about once again serving as head coach, but is also glad the Monomoy program is getting a coach they know.
“They've been through a whole bunch of change,” he said. “The one constant is that I've been around in one capacity or another since the program started. I've provided them with a little bit of stability, which they deserve.”
Demanche got his proverbial football feet wet after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1981, after which he both taught and coached at Bishop Stang in Dartmouth and Barnstable High School, where he led the Red Raiders to two Super Bowl victories as well as three league championships.
After moving on from Barnstable, Demanche started the football program at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis, and then ventured to Harwich High, starting a program there and remaining connected to its evolution during the Monomoy regionalization through assistant coaching, and as a health and phys ed teacher at Monomoy Regional High School.
“Coach Demanche brings a wealth of knowledge to the position. He has been involved in high school education and athletics for 34 years, and spent several of those years as a head football coach,” wrote Monomoy Athletic Director Brendan Case in a recent press release. “We are excited to work with Coach Demanche on continuing to grow the Monomoy football program and turn it into a consistent winner, both on and off the field.”
Demanche is looking forward to continuing the momentum begun by departing head coach Ross Jatkola and building on it with the hope of creating a winning program.
“I really like the group of kids that's there,” Demanche said. “The opportunity to coach that group was attractive.”
He offered kudos to Jatkola for boosting the program.
“Ross and his staff have done a really good job of encouraging the numbers, so they are looking better than when I first had the program,” Demanche said. “The weight room all winter and spring has been full. Those are all encouraging signs.”
Demanche said his overall football strategy is simple.
“What I told the kids and parents at the first meeting is that I've tried to base my career on a few things – commitment, character and discipline,” he said. “That may not sound flashy, but I think those are attributes that football provides that can carry over into real life expectations.”
This year will find the Sharks a part of the newly expanded Mayflower League, which was reconfigured this winter to include Vocational Large, Vocational Small, and Comprehensive. Monomoy will now play fellow Mayflower teams including Nantucket, Avon, West Bridgewater, and Tri-County, along with Matignon/St. Joe's, and Cape Tech in their home opener on Sept. 9.
“The schedule lends itself to playing competitively,” said Demanche. “The last couple of years playing in the tough South Shore League, there were games that coaches went into worrying about whether kids would be OK physically.”
Demanche said the league change will ideally mean more evenly matched opponents.
“We're in for some fair fights,” he said. “You just have to work smart and obviously the off season is critical for that.”
With Monomoy's numbers rising to a respectable level, Demanche is anticipating a strong off-season as well as a solid pre-season.
“We're in a better place now that we've been in in quite some time,” he said, adding that bigger numbers means more players vying for starting positions. “We've got a little more competition in practice, which is good, and lends itself to a better practice.”
One player Demanche is especially familiar with is his son, Riley, previously a wide receiver and an offensive lineman. Demanche said given that he's coached his son in the past, he's comfortable with doing so at the high school level.
“I've done it before, obviously on a smaller stage through Little League and Barnstable Youth Football's Silver Bullets,” Demanche said. “Riley and I will be fine in the sense that he understands that I'm going to coach as I have for 34 years, and that he has to earn his place just like any other kid in the program.”
Demanche said a far more pressing challenge is finding support staff.
“It's just a late date to find assistant coaches,” he said. “I'm in the process now of having dialogue with the guys that were on Coach Jatkola's staff, and there's a network of people that I know. That's the challenge that I'm going to face.”
Meanwhile, Demanche has been busy contacting players to encourage weight training and get them ready for upcoming 7-on-7s and various tourneys.
“I'll be working them conditionally, and as I put together staff, working with that staff so we're ready to go Aug. 19 (when practices begin),” Demanche said. “It's like putting the puzzle together, how we put that puzzle together in the pre-season and practices leading up to games.”
Demanche said he's eager to get started.
“There are two types of coaches,” he said. “Those that enjoy games and think that practice is a necessity, and those that really like the practices and teaching component leading up to the games.”
Demanche said he falls into the latter category.
“Friday night is the test,” he said. “It's when you find out how well you taught your students. What are they going to take away from it? The best classroom I've ever taught in is 100 by 50 yards.”