By Dan Guttenplan
---- — BYFIELD — Pat Sheehan spent the offseason rounding out his coaching staff with assistants who have made names for themselves in the Cape Ann League.
The Triton football coach hired former Ipswich head coach Ted Flaherty and former Newburyport offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy to bolster a staff that has led the team to a 7-26 record over the last three seasons.
Flaherty, who left Ipswich this winter after eight seasons as a head coach, will work with defensive coordinator Shawn McElligott, who also has head coaching experience, on defensive strategy and game plans. McCarthy will take over offensive play-calling duties from Sheehan after overseeing a Newburyport offense that set program records for passing yards twice in the last six seasons.
“In Massachusetts high school football, it’s tough to keep good coaches in-house,” Sheehan said. “We don’t get paid a lot, and we work a ton of hours. I’m always looking for good coaches on the sideline. I know Ted well, and I’ve worked with Ryan before. When they became available, I hunted them right down. I was the first call they got when I found out their availability.”
Flaherty’s record at Ipswich was relatively strong for one of the smaller schools in the CAL. His 2006 team won a Super Bowl title. The 1976 Ipswich graduate compiled a record of 26-60 in eight seasons.
“We’re running a new defense with Ted helping out (McElligott),” Sheehan said. “We’re going to be running a 4-3 defense. Coach Mac and Coach Flaherty worked tirelessly to develop that. We’ll be strong up front with speed on the perimeter.”
McCarthy, a former Newburyport High quarterback, installed a passing attack in Newburyport that was unrivaled in the Cape Ann League from 2007 to 2011. He called offensive plays for two quarterbacks — Joe Clancy and Connor Wile — who broke program marks for passing yards and touchdowns.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Ryan combining philosophies,” Sheehan said. “It’s the same offense with some new wrinkles. I’ve called plays two of the last three years, but it won’t be much of a change. We both install it. We both design it. Play-calling will be done Ryan on game days.”
McCarthy and Sheehan worked together last spring after McCarthy was hired as Triton’s head baseball coach. Sheehan served as his freshman coach, setting the stage for the collaboration in football.
“I approached him before he even got the baseball job,” Sheehan said. “I said, ‘If you come over to Triton, I’m going to hunt you down to come coach football.’ He’s immersed in the school now. He has ties and roots in Newburyport, but he brings a lot of tradition to Triton.”
The Vikings will be looking to improve on last year’s 1-11 record. That came on the heels of a 6-5 campaign in 2011, when the Vikings had 16 seniors filling 21 of the starting positions on offense and defense. Last year, the Vikings had five seniors. This year, they have 12.
“These seniors have a year under their belt,” Sheehan said. “We started 16 sophomore last year at some point in the season. Those guys have a lot of experience too. I’m pretty confident our seniors will play a good brand of football.”
Senior captain Brad Whitman will return as the starting quarterback after taking most of the snaps last season. Justin Cashman, who saw some playing time at quarterback at midseason, will move to other skill positions in order to give Sheehan an opportunity to put his best players on the field at once.
“Brad proved to us last year and this offseason that he’s a starting quarterback,” Sheehan said. “Even in the practices we’ve had this week, he’s looked really good. It should be an exciting season for everybody.”
Triton Football Schedule
Date Time Opponent
Saturday, Sept. 7 1 p.m. Swampscott
Friday, Sept. 13 7 p.m. Amesbury
Saturday, Sept. 28 1 p.m. Pentucket
Friday, Oct. 4 4 p.m. Saugus
Friday, Oct. 11 7 p.m. NEWBURYPORT
Friday, Oct. 18 7 p.m. NORTH READING
Friday, Oct. 25 7 p.m. Masconomet
Thursday, Nov. 28 10 a.m. PENTUCKET
* Home games in caps
** MIAA playoffs will run Nov. 1 to 15