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South Boston lets Guthrie go, looks for new football coach

Posted by Justin Rice  February 4, 2013 06:00 PM

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Sean Guthrie closed a preseason workout this past August at Moakley Field in South Boston. Guthrie was recently released from his duties as South Boston's head football coach after six seasons. (Justin A. Rice / For the Boston Globe)

After six seasons with Sean Guthrie at the helm of its football program, South Boston High is going in a new direction.

The school’s administration notified Guthrie that he would not be asked back to coach the team just before Christmas vacation, and the school is currently searching for his replacement.

“We just had different philosophies on how the team should run in terms of different policies, conduct policies and things like that,” Guthrie said of the school’s headmaster, Stephanie Sibley. “It was just something we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on; some of the policies I had in place and what she wanted and that’s what it came down to.”

Guthrie, who will continue to teach math at the school, said he enrolled in a Master’s in education program geared to urban teachers at Boston College, where he played football as an undergraduate until the 2001-02 season.

After college he played for the New York Giants for one season before moving to NFL Europe.

“I was kind of really disappointed at first,” Guthrie said of being released from his coaching position. “But I’ve been involved in playing and coaching football every season since I was 6 years old. It’s almost welcoming.”

Guthrie’s assistant, Jim de Mello, who is also the school’s athletic coordinator, said he will not return as an assistant and that the school will be interviewing not only for the head coaching position but also the assistant coach job as well.

He said anyone interested in the jobs should send a resume to the school at 95 G. St South Boston, or email him at jdemello@boston.k12.ma.us before Feb. 14.

Three candidates for both jobs will be interviewed at the end of February and de Mello said they hope to have a coach in place in early March.

“We’re looking for somebody with a minimal of three years of experience for the head coaching experiencing of high school coaching or a combination of high school and college coaching,” he said. “We’re looking for somebody who can show they can get the paperwork done and they can be organized in having their house in order in terms of getting paperwork done on time and making sure that they have a good system of completing all that in a timely fashion as well as their coaching attributes.

“We don’t necessarily need somebody who is the most winningest coach out there. We need somebody who is going to be able to work day in and day out, have a commitment to the students outside the season, which means offseason workouts as far as conditioning and weight room, and if he doesn’t work in the school, will be there more hours than just practice hours to work with the administration and have meetings.”

For de Mello, it’s hard to go through the process of hiring a new coach after he worked so closely with Guthrie the last six years.

“It is hard because we kind of learned a system together, we went to all the coaching clinics, we did everything we could,” he said. “We did a lot of work together and tried to rise up our program and tried to make it better than it was.

“I thought Sean had some really good things going on with our program.”

However, de Mello said Guthrie’s communication with the administration and paperwork — a common Achilles' heel among BPS coaches — left a lot to be desired.

“It was a lot to handle, doing all the administrative work and coaching and teaching,” Guthrie said.

After coaching one season as an assistant in 2006, Guthrie took over the program shortly after the death of head coach Bob Lerro in 2007. Guthrie compiled a 33-28 record at South Boston, including the Boston City League North division title in 2008.

Guthrie said he watched the Super Bowl with some members of that 2008 team and what he will miss most is developing relationships with the players.

“Just seeing guys go on and have children and get jobs and graduate from college, that’s what I’ll miss most is the relationships,” he said, “Watching them grow from kids to men and being a part of that.”

Guthrie also tried to build rapport with his players by getting them to identify with what it means to be a South Boston Knight since most of his players don’t live in South Boston.

“Definitely getting through to the kid who was getting kicked out of class and pulling him in and trying to build a new identity with the Knights and building a group, I’ll definitely miss that,” he said.

But what he’ll miss most is being on the field with his players.

“Especially teaching a subject like math, people aren’t always enthusiastic about math,” he joked. “I’ll miss that, being able to cut loose with guys and not have restrictions you do in a classroom.”

Guthrie said he’s still working out with some of the players after school.

“I’ll always be a part of the team; I’ll help as much as I can,” he said, “just for the kids who still want it, I’ll still be there.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.