Waubonsie’s Paul Murphy retires from coaching and teaching after 15 seasons as a warrior. Justin Cornwell reports on his memorable years for this feature, presented by Edward Medical Group.
Coach Murphy’s Story
On Friday, October 25th 2019. After 15 seasons and 100 victories, Paul Murphy marched towards midfield for the opening coin toss as the head coach of the Waubonsie Valley football team for the final time.
The Warriors entered the final game of the season against Naperville North with a 3-5 record, meaning any post season hopes were all but out of reach. But his team was determined to send off their longtime coach with a victory.
A football coach for 43 years, Murphy led the Marmion Academy football program for 15 years as well, but it was his tenure at Waubonsie beginning in 2005 that cemented him as an Illinois football coaching legend. His Warriors teams made the playoffs in 12 of his 15 years, making the 8A state quarterfinals in 2012 and the semi finals for just the 2nd time in school history in 2015. Later that year, Coach Murphy was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
His teams never backed down from any opponent. In their last three playoff seasons in 2015, 2016 and 2018 the Warriors upset a high seeded opponent on the road for a first round victory. The 2015 team shocked the state week after week, making their semi final run as the 30 seed, defeating Edwardsville, Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central along the way. His fellow coaches in the area always respected the challenge of facing a Paul Murphy coached team.
On the night of his final game, the city of Aurora named it Paul Murphy day, and his son wowed the home crowed with an impressive rendition of the National Anthem. His players also stepped up in a big way, with senior quarterback Ethan Nelson throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third. Special teams blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. With the Warriors leading 35-21 late in the fourth, Coach Murphy had a message for the offense and three year varsity running back Bryce Logan heading into the final drive.
After Logan’s second touchdown of the game, there was only one thing missing to cap off a memorable night.
After the Gatorade bath, the rest of the evening was filled with smiles, hugs and cheers for a coach and program that showed year after year they belonged with the best in the state.
And even though the season as a whole did not end with another long playoff run, Coach Murphy and the seniors couldn’t have been any prouder of the fight the team displayed.
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