NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 9, 2010

Former coach Sheridan remembered by his players

(Continued)

"Those are the two biggest Newburyport/Amesbury games," Sheridan said of the 15-12 loss in 1952 and the 42-13 victory in 1953. "They meant so much for Newburyport and Newburyport football."

Riley said the key to Sheridan's success was his trust in his players.

"He left it up to the kids to complement him," Riley said. "He didn't even call the plays for the quarterback. He'd give us options and let us call them. Once in a while, he'd send in a play, but if the quarterback didn't want to call it, he didn't have to. There was no fighting between the coaches and ballplayers."

Sheridan's successful rebuilding project with the Clippers earned him an offer to coach at Salem High School in 1958. He accepted the opportunity to coach the Class A representative and routinely had one of the top teams in the state before accepting another coaching position at Saugus in 1963. He finished his coaching career after five seasons at Saugus.

Tom Flaherty quarterbacked the Clippers under Sheridan from 1952 to 1955. He went on to play at Amherst College before suffering a career-ending injury. He then transferred to Northeastern University in pursuit of a degree in accounting. That is, until Sheridan contacted him in 1958 and asked him to do some scouting for him in Salem's conference — what was then known Essex County League.

"It was so inspiring watching Walt coach that I changed my major from accounting to English because I wanted to become a coach like him," Flaherty said. "He was a remarkable man, and I owe him so much. He changed the culture and the expectations in Newburyport."

Flaherty eventually served on Sheridan's staff at Salem. When Sheridan moved to Saugus, Flaherty became the head coach at Pentucket, a job he held for 16 years.

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