Damien fires football coach

A week removed from a 3-7 season, Scott Morrison was fired as head football coach of Damien High School on Friday. Morrison, a Damien graduate, guided his teams to two Sierra League championships and four playoff appearances in six seasons. Given those accomplishments, Morrison was surprised to be relieved of his duties.

“The administration stepped in because we didn’t have a successful enough season,” Morrison said. “It’s a tough place. You gotta win, and we didn’t win this year. We went to the playoffs three years in a row and won two league championships, but apparently that doesn’t earn you any wiggle room.”

Damien is forming a search committee to find its next coach, but doesn’t have a timetable. “We feel that this is the right time for us to go in a different direction,” Damien athletic director Tom Carroll said. “Scott will always be a part of the Damien family.”

Morrison, who is uncertain whether he will continue his teaching job at Damien, acknowledged feeling tension as the Spartans lost seven of their first eight games this season.

“I never heard anything directly, but you always hear plenty indirectly,” he said. “You kind of have a feeling just like when any relationship gets strained. It’s unfortunate because I love this place and I love these players.”

Morrison was the head coach for five years at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, Calif., before returning in 2003 to Damien, where he helped the football team win a CIF-Southern Section championship in 1982. Morrison has coached in some capacity for 22 years – all at private schools. He finished his career at Damien with a 32-33-1 record.

Damien’s 2008 nonleague schedule was likely its most difficult during Morrison’s tenure. When the Spartans entered league play at 1-4, their four losses were to opponents who had a single loss between them.

“There was plenty of negativity swirling around about our ability to win games,” Morrison said. “Sometimes it has a negative impact on the kids and how they view the team.”

  • Joe the Plumber

    Well this certainly doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.

    Given Coach Morrison’s success over the last five seasons, I don’t see how the administration can judge him on this past season alone. To the outsider, that certainly seems to be the case… doesn’t it???

    It seems to me that he was dealt the perfect storm for this past season:

    > Depleted talent pool.
    > Very tough preseason schedule.
    > Followed by playing the top three teams in the Sierra league.

    This really seems like a knee-jerk reaction by a bunch of jerks in the administration. They probably sat there all season letting their blood boil without taking into account the circumstances.

    I wish nothing but the best for Coach Morrison. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Damien Administration. I hope they end up hiring one of the loser coaches circulating their resumes right now and four years from now look back on this decision as the biggest blunder in the school’s history.

  • Joe the Plumber

    Well this certainly doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.

    Given Coach Morrison’s success over the last five seasons, I don’t see how the administration can judge him on this past season alone. To the outsider, that certainly seems to be the case… doesn’t it???

    It seems to me that he was dealt the perfect storm for this past season:

    > Depleted talent pool.
    > Very tough preseason schedule.
    > Followed by playing the top three teams in the Sierra league.

    This really seems like a knee-jerk reaction by a bunch of jerks in the administration. They probably sat there all season letting their blood boil without taking into account the circumstances.

    I wish nothing but the best for Coach Morrison. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Damien Administration. I hope they end up hiring one of the loser coaches circulating their resumes right now and four years from now look back on this decision as the biggest blunder in the school’s history.

  • Bob the Builder

    I agree. Personally I think it’s pathetic that the administration has done this. The school obviously had a huge lack of talent this year. Anyone going to a few of the games could see it. They didn’t have the huge 220 pound defensive line like years past or a great quarterback. How is Coach Morrison responsible for that?

  • Man in the desert

    Wow this is a surprise. What does a coach need to do these days to stay coaching and teaching at a good school. Well yes was a bad year but hey maybe it is the talent pool out there that is doing it. I know he isn’t out recruiting if having a season like this. Like all other Catholic schools do. Well maybe it was the Admin. falling to the pressure of parents that think there you baby has a college career in them but just proves that they don’t with the past that Coach Morrison has had there at Damianville. Well I wish the best to Coach in finding another position that will treat with respect to the person and not the parents that seem to be running the system now adays in this so called world of Education and Athletics

  • NeKs

    Keep in mind that the championships he won were with Pasqarellas recruits (IAN JOHNSON ETC…).

  • No offense, but it was the right call

    While it’s never good to see someone lose their job, in this case, I believe it was warranted.

    The program was going nowhere FAST. The preparation on the lower levels was nonexistent, and the overall status of football at Damien was in limbo (as far as making solid progress in numerous areas).

    At game time, complete chaos was the order of the day, with opposing defensive coordinators licking their chops, at the ease with which the Spartans could be stopped.
    Offensively, the play calling was way too predictable to be taken seriously, let alone to be competitive.

    While wishful thinking is usually a good thing, Damien’s highly competitive league dictates that it needs better to challenge the thoroughbreds in the Sierra League.

    Bottom line, football brings in way too much money to allow such performances to continue.

  • BluKnight

    I am not surprised that Morrison was fired this year. I watched the last few years go down the drain because he did not want to adapt and evolve with the game. Anyone who sat in the stands could see that he always ran the same plays with the same players. The only reason why he won the last few years was because of the talent that Pertusati, McMahon, Mendrum , and his other star players brought to the table. Those players would have played just as well anywhere else. It’s alot easier to shine as the coach when you have stars playing but it takes a true coach to mold less than star players into a good team. I have personally experienced the “Coach Mo” experience and am glad to see him leave. I am sure there was some undiscovered talent among the 75+ players that rode the bench throught the years that he only played his superstars. I just hope the next coach nurtures and develops the talent he has and brings Damien back to the top. Coach Bubba should head the warning and adapt as well. Go Spartans!!!!!

  • OCSpartanFan

    Damien should be a contender for the league title every year, and should have the ability to go deep into the playoffs. They have a large area from which they can recruit talent as they are the only Catholic high school for miles around. Damien has become predictable and has not embraced offensive schemes which have been sucessful in other programs such as Mater Dei, Mission Viejo, Servite, etc. But forget about the schemes, this years team showed a lack of basic fundamental skills. Blocking and tackling. As for “a lack of talent” as an excuse, it is the job of the staff to “coach ‘em up”. The team size and speed was comparable to other programs. I hope Damien takes this opportunity to address the long term needs of the program and bring in a young coach who can build a tradition of winning, not just league titles, but CIF championships. It also may be time to look at bringing in a new AD with Coach Carroll in the role of “emeritus”.

  • techmobowl

    People that talk about new offensive schemes crack me up. I just watched West Virgina get shut down while Pitt used “old schemes” and dominated the L.O.S. and won the game. Markham won over 300 games using “old school” power football. Tustin in Orange County has won a ton of games using “old offensive schemes”. Remember colleges and the pros can get specific players to fit their schemes. High school programs can’t, they play with what they got. I have seen more high school teams employing the spread get shut down then ones that have been successful. It isn’t the schemes, period. Here is how you score on offense. (1) You have better players, example Brian Barnes at Tesoro High School. His team is scoring points, winning games, and he looks like a genius. Just two years ago he was at Estancia high school running the same offense getting stuffed and losing. The difference? Better players at Tesoro. (2) Having your players buy into your system both in the off-season and in-season. (3) Teaching sound fundementals and having your offensive lineman executing those fundementals better then the opposing defensive lineman can execute their fundementals. (4) not turning the ball over. (5) Not making stupid mistakes and taking penalties. Cover those 5 things and you will score points reguardless of your offensive system.

  • lloyd byers

    I played at Damien from 1976-80 and 3.5 yrs of small college football and what I’ve seen over the past few years as a casual observer is a team that is getting slower, and when I say that I mean team speed. Overall team speed is the best known indicator (in my experience) success and staying compettitive in high school football and especially high school football. Apparetnly damien failed to hold 2 a days last season – that is almost fatal to their success, furthermore several seniors were cut from the team after two a days because they didn’t measure up even though they suited up practiced and paid their dues for the last three years with the program- that is just WRONG! I have more to say but am running out of time today. would someone explain to me about the cutting of seniors and the no 2 a day decision – it makes a difference to me!

  • Anonymous

    Good move. He coached me at Marin Catholic and because of him, football stopped being fun and became a job. We were an undefeated and UNSCORED UPON team freshman year, 9-1 JV year, and then 5-5 each varsity year. Explain that – a team that SHUT OUT EVERY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE to a 5-5 team. It was him.