McElroy receiving the award in San Antonio, Texas
(Courtesy of Mark McElroy)
Saddleback Head football coach Mark McElroy wins the ACCFCA Coach of the Year award for the 2015 season
Mark McElroy, Saddleback College’s head football coach, has won the 2015 American Community College Football Coaches Association (ACCFCA) Coach of the Year award.
“It was an absolute surprise,” McElroy said regarding the award. “The actual event was almost surreal because there were so many legendary college football coaches that were in attendance.”
The AFCA convention and dinner was held in San Antonio, Texas where the award was presented on Jan. 12.
After getting off to a rocky 0-2 start, the momentum was shifted and the coach was able to command his team to a successful 10-3 season
Moving on to the postseason, the team won the Southern California Football Association Championship game over Long Beach City College which advanced them to an appearance in the California Community College Athletic Association Football State Championship.
This resulted in an unfortunate 26-14 loss to the City College of San Francisco. Their winning record still earned the team the National Division Southern League Title.
Along with his personal award, he coached multiple successful players to a point of recognition this season. Sophmore star quarterback Johnny Stanton was named the Offensive Player of the Year and first team All America by the JC Athletic Bureau, joined on the team by Sophmore Defensive Back Marcus Meredith. Under his coaching, offensive linemen Jake Nelson and Markus Boyer and wide receiver Dominic Collins each made the JC all-state list as well.
The Gauchos as a whole were ranked as the second best team in California and placed number five in the nation according to JCGridiorn.rivals.com.
Despite the football team’s multiple accomplishments from last season, he noted how they are still looking for ways to improves moving forward.
“The key is recruiting the right guys to play in the Gaucho program, having the right guys coaching the players, and then get everyone pulling on the same end of the rope,” McElroy said.
Going into next season, the Gauchos will work towards these goals and strive for the ultimate prize of being the state champions.
Coach McElroy explained how there were a number of changes to the team’s approach that he believes led to their success. Last year, the team recruited a lower number of players and examined potential prospects very carefully during the recruitment process.
He stated that they would put an extra amount of time aside and invested it toward building team culture and promoting leadership, hoping that it would produce a positive, high character attitude throughout the entire team.
“With those things combined, our team became closer and came together to play well,” McElroy said.
McElroy currently has a 130-68 record as Saddleback head coach heading into his 18th season. In his time here, he has won four conference titles and led his team to the postseason for 14 of the past 15 years with a 13 year long playoff streak that set the SCFA record. He has coached 10 players that have gone on to play in the NFL and a total of 299 that have transferred away to four year colleges.
Mark McElroy’s decorated history with Saddleback dates back to 1979, playing wide receiver for the Gauchos in a year that led to a conference championship. When he returned as a head coach years later, he brought with him experience, character building, and knowledge of the no-huddle offense, which he broke down in an instructional book, Coaching the No-Huddle Offense, published in 1998.
His football legacy and overall presence in the college far outweighs any award, but receiving an occasional recognition never hurts.