HARWICH ─ There are a lot of amazing memories wrapped up in Paul “Spanky” Demanche's 19 years as head coach of Barnstable Football. Super Bowl championships, snow on Thanksgiving, and scores of amazing athletes. On Nov. 26, Demanche added one more memory when he was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame as their winningest coach of all time.
Demanche said he learned of the induction early this fall, but had a feeling given his record – two Div. 1 Super Bowl titles, three Old Colony League championships, and the most career wins ever (110) – that the induction was a possibility. The reality, thanks to the presence of his family, was even better.
Demanche, who currently helms the Monomoy program, first started coaching at BHS as an assistant in the 1980s before becoming head coach in 1989. That season the Red Raiders went 6-5, but had bigger seasons to come, including the 1995 and 1999 Super Bowl winning seasons.
In the 1995 season, the Red Raiders went undefeated, but with regard to the wins and the championships, and especially the Hall of Fame nod, he is quick to note that he didn't achieve everything by himself.
“Obviously there have been a tremendous number of successful people that have gone through those doors in a long, storied history, and to be mentioned in that breath, and to get the plaque and see [that you're the] winningest football coach in the history of the school, the only two-time Super Bowl winner, those things are accomplishments I'm proud of,” he said. “But great staff and great kids got us to that point. It's one of those awards that you certainly take pride in, but it's shared with a whole bunch of people.”
Though the sheer number of games Demanche oversaw in his tenure with the school is staggering, there are a few that stand out for him, including his first Thanksgiving Day game against longtime rival Falmouth.
“We got snowed out. I got a call at the house from Eddie Winslow, the Falmouth coach, and he says, 'I don't think we can play,'” Demanche said. “I said 'Why not?' He said, 'Have you looked out the window?' I looked out the window and there were eight inches of snow on the windowsill. It was the first time I'd ever been involved in a postponed Thanksgiving game.”
Then there were the Super Bowls. Demanche said that while the school's first win in 1995 was certainly awesome, it was the second that really resonated.
“The second Super Bowl was more satisfying because we were playing BC High and no one gave us a chance,” Demanche said. “People thought that BC High should have been playing Everett, that the matchups weren't good.”
Ultimately, Barnstable beat BC High at Boston University with a final score of 20-6.
“That really stood out,” Demanche said. “And of course a whole bunch of games against Falmouth.”
But again, Demanche comes back to his players.
“It's the kids,” he said. “Now they're adults. To go to the Hall of Fame ceremony and see grown men, to get inducted with Greg Hill who was a quarterback for us and is now a teacher-coach at Barnstable; Mike Duffley who was a great player for us and is now a successful businessman; the Chris Joyce's and Bobby Maffei's... You hope that you made a difference in their lives in terms of work ethic and their approach to things. When I go over to a Barnstable game and listen to John Cabral, who was just a great kid. He just bled Raider Red as a high school football player and is now the voice of the Red Raiders. Those things, all things all trigger some emotions and memories for sure.”
Demanche said he respects the game even more nowadays because it offers kids delayed gratification in a fast-paced world.
“Kids today have instant gratification. We're a microwave society. Everything's got to be fast,” he said, adding that his thinking was inspired by a TED talk. “In football you've got to practice for six days to play a game. And then another six days for another game. Whereas, in other sports you turn around in less than 24 hours you're playing again.”
Demanche said the longer preparation means the players are constantly building on the skills they learned the previous day or in the previous game.
“I look at us this year where we had it rolling pretty good, went 3-0 and then went a month-and-a-half without winning a game,” he said. “To come back every day and keep working to try and get to that point where you can be successful again, the satisfaction of beating Bourne and Sacred Heart is a result of that this year.”
Success isn't guaranteed, either.
“You think about teams that go winless,” Demanche said. “You admire those kids as much as the kids that win it all, because to stick with it, it's a testament. Those are the kids who grow up to become pretty special adults.”
Demanche is now turning his attention to his Monomoy squad, which he led to a 5-5 record this season, and on which Demanche's own son, Riley, plays.
“I love where we're heading,” he said. “(Former head coach) Ross (Jatkola) set the course with that group of kids. We're continuing to move in that direction. I don't feel I'm done by any stretch.”
Demanche said when the games get challenging, he turns to a favorite quote: Tough times don't last, but tough people do.
“I've been through tough times,” he said. “It's ironic that I got fired from the place where I got into the Hall of Fame. If you're around long enough, things come full cycle. You just hope that you're around long enough to see it come full cycle.”