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Originally published Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 6:18 PM

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Football coach's resignation takes Archbishop Murphy by surprise

First-year coach Bill Marsh, whose team was 2-2 and coming off a 49-0 loss to Lakewood, resigned for personal reasons, according to athletic director Jerry Zander.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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On Sunday afternoon, Archbishop Murphy athletic director Jerry Zander and school administrators met with first-year football coach Bill Marsh. Two days after the Wildcats' 49-0 loss to Lakewood, Marsh surprised the group with an announcement. He was resigning as the school's football coach.

Marsh, whose team was 2-2, made the announcement official on Monday morning but couldn't be reached for comment. The news hit area coaches and fans like a splash of cold water.

"That's exactly how we feel as well," Zander said. "It was a shock to us. It was a shock to me.

"He resigned, and it was 100 percent his decision. We didn't ask him to. We weren't even looking to make any kind of a move. We were prepared to have Bill Marsh as our head coach for many, many years. It was a surprise to us. All he told us is it was for personal reasons. I just want to let everyone know that he was not asked to resign."

Assistant coach Mike Allison, who Zander said was one of three finalists for the job before Marsh was hired, will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

Marsh replaced former coach Dave Ward, who went 47-6 in four seasons, including state runner-up finishes the last two years. But the school made drastic changes in the athletic department before this season.

Archbishop Murphy fired former athletic director Rick Stubrud and placed Ward and one of his assistants, Jeff Schmidt, on administrative leave. Eventually, Zander decided not to retain Ward, who is now the head coach at Sedro-Woolley.

"We are obviously very proud of what we've accomplished," Zander told The (Everett) Herald earlier this year. "But we want Archbishop Murphy football to be about more than just wins and losses. We want it to be a fantastic experience."

Marsh arrived after spending 10 seasons as head coach at Eastside Catholic. The Crusaders went 68-34 during Marsh's tenure, but he resigned in 2009. At the time, he said, "There are some other professional goals I have for myself." He also said the decision about leaving Eastside Catholic was 100 percent his own.

Marsh and the Wildcats opened the season with two wins, including a 40-26 victory at University City in San Diego. Before that game, Marsh said he and his administrators were planning on getting on a plane every other year for out-of-state games.

The Wildcats returned home and lost 40-15 to King's in a game televised by ROOT Sports. It was King's first win against Archbishop Murphy. The following the week, the Wildcats lost 49-0 to then-No. 8 Lakewood.

Marsh told Zander that he was leaving for person reasons and that "his decision is not related to the Sept. 21 loss to Lakewood High School," according to the school's statement.

Zander said he met with the football team Monday afternoon, and he will also meet with parents.

"The season doesn't end just because coach Marsh decided to resign," Zander said. "We need to move forward."

Allison, a former University of Oregon linebacker, was the assistant linebackers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Portland State before taking the job at Archbishop Murphy. He also spent years coaching at high schools in Oregon.

Archbishop Murphy's next game is against South Whidbey on Oct. 5.

Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or jjenks@seattletimes.com

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