Mike Driscoll has stepped down as Whitman-Hanson Regional High’s football coach.
Ever since Mike Driscoll was putting on the pads himself at Whitman-Hanson Regional High 30 years ago, he knew one thing.
“I wanted to become the head football coach,” said Driscoll, who graduated from W-H in 1991 and was part of its Super Bowl-winning team in 1989. “This is where I went to school and this was my dream job.”
After 10 years of living out his dream, Driscoll has stepped down as the Panthers’ head coach. A move he began to ponder this past fall when for the first time in 22 years, he didn’t have football games and practices clogging up his calendar.
“My kids are 10 and 12 years old, so they’re at the prime of their sports careers,” Driscoll said. “I realized there’s much more to life than just football and I need to spend more time with them. I’m sick of missing all of their things.”
Driscoll began his coaching career in 1998 as a volunteer freshman coach at W-H and would then move up the ladder. He also had brief stops at Scituate (one year) and Pembroke (two years) before returning to his alma mater to take over the reins of the Panthers in 2011.
“I knew all the guys who coached here,” Driscoll said. “I wanted to keep the Panther tradition alive. This is about character and class. My goal from Day 1 was to make sure every kid that came through this program left a better person and I know we achieved that goal.”
Ryan Trongone, who graduated in 2019, was a two-way, two-year starter for Driscoll. He now plays at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“He inspired us all to be the best we could both on and off the field,” Trongone said. “He wasn’t just a coach to us. On the field, yes, he was our coach, but off the field, he was our friend. He was always there when we needed him.”
Under Driscoll, W-H posted five winning seasons and compiled a 51-51-1 record punctuated by a season-ending win over Hingham, 17-7, on Friday, April 9 in Driscoll’s final game as head coach.
“It really didn’t hit me until the end of the third and fourth quarters [it was my last game], and then it really got to me after the game,” Driscoll said. “I was just so focused on the game. We worked so hard on the game plan this week and the kids brought it.”
Driscoll said he’s going to miss most aspects of his high school coaching duties.
“I love Friday nights,” he said. “There’s nothing better than seeing this placed packed. And just that overall feeling when you’re in school that day and how cool it feels on a big game day. I also love the comradery with the coaching staff and preparing and moving on to the next game giving Saturday a day you take a deep breath and Sunday you’re right back at it watching film – hours and hours of it. I’ll miss that part of it. I’m sure I’ll still be watching some film, just not as much.”
Paul Scarpelli coached with Driscoll for 10 years and enjoyed each year of it.
“Mike created a family-like atmosphere for his coaching staff,” Scarpelli said. “I felt like he allowed me to grow as a coach and had confidence in my knowledge. Being the only member of the staff not graduating from W-H, he always made me feel like an honorary Panther. Mike wore his heart on his sleeve and his love for football and respect for the coaches that came before him.”
Driscoll said he has three memories that come to mind first when he looks back on his tenure with the Panthers.
“My first year, second game we played Rockland at home,” he said. “W-H and Rockland hadn’t played in years and the place was absolutely packed. We had about 2,500 to 3,000 people at the game from both towns. We won. We played amazing that night.
“My second year we traveled over to Foxboro,” Driscoll said. “We were both undefeated. It was the ESPN Game of the Week and we beat them by a point, and the place was just cool. They had the best band I’d ever heard. They had 100 kids and we walked in there and we beat them.
“The Thanksgiving comeback (against Abington in 2016) was a cool game,” Driscoll added. “That was a great, great game.”
While Driscoll’s time throwing on the headset at Dennis M. O’Brien Stadium is over, his time rooting on the Panthers is far from finished.
“My kid is going to be up here in two years,” Driscoll said. “He plays football, so I’ll be at the games. My daughter won’t let me not be at the games. She’s probably W-H’s No. 1 fan. She told me even if she has to walk to the games, she’s gonna go. I’m a Panther for life. I’m not going anywhere.”