TOWNSEND — For more than a decade, the North Middlesex Regional soccer program has been fighting to win.
The Patriots have had a winning season since 2008 and are 43-139 combined since then, a far cry from the program’s glory days in the 1980s and ’90s, when NM won 121 games and six Super Bowl titles.
First-year head coach Jordan Murphy will inherit a team that has won just two games and has just four seniors. An undefeated season and a trip to Foxboro is overkill at this point, but the 31-year-old is thrilled to be a part of the program and promises to be a consistent winner again.
“We’re just trying to get out there and get the kids involved,” he said after Monday night’s practice. “I got the job at the end of June and have only been able to get my hands on it for only a couple of months, but so far so good. The most important thing for us is to try to increase the numbers and attract more children to football. Right now we have a total of 57 children and we only have four seniors, so we are a very young team. We have a lot of numbers with the youth and we look forward to continuing to grow the program and build it.”
Murphy comes from a family of coaches.
His father, Shawn, trained at Ayer Shirley before moving up the college ranks at UMass Lowell and Northeastern. His uncle, Pat Murphy, now an offensive coordinator at the University of Rhode Island, was a head coach at Dracut High and led the Middies to a Super Bowl title in 2008. One of his star players on that team was his nephew, a tight end caught six passes for 82 yards with a touchdown in the team’s 27-0 title win over Marshfield.
“It’s a football family. I grew up as a little kid who always went to daddy’s practices and when my uncle was training he would go to his practices and he would be rolling in the bags and knocking over dummies. I’ve always been in the game my whole life,” said Jordan, who has six younger sisters. “My aunt (Kelly Murphy) was a volleyball coach at Saint Anselm College, so she’s been a great family of coaches. I just grew up surrounded by sports all the time and being coached by my aunt, uncle and dad.”
Jordan played two years at Ayer Shirley and then his last two years at Dracut. From there, he did a graduate year at Bridgton Academy in Maine before receiving a football scholarship to play at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Florida. He played all four years, helping the team win three conference titles and make three playoff appearances. him while he was playing against the likes of Florida State and the University of Miami.
After his playing days were over, Jordan was an assistant coach at Gardner High for a year before returning to Bethune-Cookman as a graduate assistant for two years. In 2019, he got his first head coaching opportunity, back at Dracut High, and finished with a 4-7 record.
“That was a great experience. That was my first year as head coach and playing in (the Merrimack Valley Conference) was a huge challenge. Every week was a great battle – every week you have to be on your ‘A’ game and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against,” he said. “I know we have Dracut on our show this year, which should be good, but we have Littleton in the first week and that’s our focus. Those guys have had a very good program there for a while. They have been very successful over the years and are definitely going to be a tough challenge.”
Murphy resigned after a year at Dracut, and became a high school physical education teacher in the Fitchburg school system and was an assistant varsity coach for two years under coach Greg Graham. Then, in late June, Murphy accepted the teaching job and head coaching position for college football at NM, replacing Ryan DeMar, who coached for four seasons.
“This is a perfect fit. Just being in the high school building with the high school kids, that’s the most ideal situation,” Murphy said. “Being able to have hands on kids during the day makes a huge difference and this is a great opportunity for me. North Middlesex is a great place to be, the building is amazing, the people here are great. We are a young team, but I think there is a lot of potential”.
Murphy, who will lead the open, no-meeting offense, immediately surrounded himself with experienced attendees, including former Westford Academy head coach Patrick Gendron, another former Dracut High coach Jason Rivers, as well as former North Middlesex star, Omar Connor, and James Burson. , a master in the system who was on DeMar’s staff.
“Jordan has great energy,” said NM athletic director Matt Dawson, who has more than 20 years as a college and high school football coach. “He is young and connects very well with children. He has done a great job putting together a team. We have about 15 more kids than last year, so he’s doing a great job of getting the kids out for the team. I just want him to keep growing the show and doing things the right way. Victories will come with time and patience. If we have a solid foundation, those things take care of themselves.”