WEST NEWBURY — Steve Hayden would rather be anywhere else in the world than in a room in which people reflect glowingly on his career as the Pentucket football coach, but that’s exactly where he’ll be Sunday night.
Hayden will be inducted into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) at the annual awards banquet at Lantana’s in Randolph. Hayden will be part of an induction class that also includes Rich Cullen (Malden), Kevin MacDonald (Milton Academy), Ed Nizwantoski (Peabody) and Richard Priestly (West Boylston).
“I’d rather hide under a rock than be out in public for something like that,” Hayden said. “But I’m happy for everyone in our school — our kids, our coaches, our parents, the administration. It’s a nice thing to go through.”
Hayden finished his 31st season as Pentucket’s head coach last fall, and he has no plans to retire in the near future. The Pentucket Regional High physical education teacher has a career record of 183-146-2 as the head football coach. He has led teams to five Cape Ann League titles, three Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl win (1999).
“Every year is a highlight with the kids you have and the moments you have with them,” Hayden said. “Some of the teams that did really well were awesome. Some that maybe record-wise weren’t as good were equally enjoyable. If you ask the kids if they had a good experience, 99 percent would say yes. That’s the bottom line: helping kids to be better and having a good experience.”
Hayden was nominated by Central Catholic football coach Chuck Adamopoulos, who coached the linemen on Hayden’s first team in 1982. Hayden and Tom Flaherty are the only two Pentucket head football coaches since 1963. Haden and Flaherty had the press box at the Pentucket football field named in their honor in 2011.