Santa Margarita Catholic High School and Coach Harry Welch are announcing his retirement at the completion of the 2013 season. Coach Welch, now in his fourth season at SMCHS and beginning his 25th season as a high school head coach, has been one of the most successful coaches in the history of high school football in Southern California with 3 State Championships and 9 CIF titles.
Coach Welch was named the third Head Football Coach at Santa Margarita on January 21, 2010 after 18 successful years with Canyon High School of Canyon Country (1982-93 and 2001-06) and three at San Juan Capistrano’s St. Margaret’s (2007-09). He enters the 2013 season with a 31-8 record as head coach of the Eagles, and a 252-55-2 lifetime mark, 10th amongst active California high school football coaches. Welch will retire after his 25th season as a head coach and 42nd year of coaching overall.
Principal Ray Dunne, in an email to Eagle football parents expressed the school’s gratitude for Welch and his contribution to SMCHS.
“Coach Welch has had a long and distinguished career, achieving significant milestones not only in wins and championships, but very importantly in the way he has had a lasting influence on the lives of young men” Dunne said. “We are very fortunate to have had Coach Welch at the helm of our football program.”
Coach Welch took over an Eagle football program at a low point in the school’s history. Welch took a 3-win team from 2009 and led them to a 9-3 record in 2010, including a trip to the CIF-Pac 5 second round. The next year, the Eagles finished with a 13-2 record, winning the CIF-SS PAC-5 Championship over San Clemente High School and went on to win the Division 1 CIF-State Championship with a thrilling victory over Bellarmine Prep of San Jose, 42-37. Last season the Eagles overcame injury and loss of quarterback Johnny Stanton, now at Nebraska, to advance to the CIF-SS Pac-5 quarterfinal where they lost to St. Bonaventure, 21-27, ending the season with a 9-3 record.
Coach Welch began as a head coach at Canyon High of Canyon Country in 1976. He has coached 17 CIF-SS Division 1 Players of the Year and has received recognitions including the 2009 and 2010 OC Register’s Coach of the Year; the 2010 LA Times Coach of the Year and the Los Angeles Daily News Coach of the Decade.
“We thank Coach Welch for his service to our school and wish nothing but the best for he and his wife Cindee in retirement,” Dunne said.