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Monday, November 25, 2013
John Papas to step down from BB&N football

By Brendan Hall

Long-time local football mainstay John Papas announced he will be stepping down as head coach of Buckingham, Browne & Nichols after 11 years at the helm.

Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald was first to report the news.

In his decade-plus in charge of the Cambridge-based prep school, which competes in the ISL, Papas endured unprecedented success, going 73-22 with four NEPSAC Bowl berths and an ISL Championship in 2008. Many of his former players went on to earn college roster spots from Division 1 FBS down to Division 3, most notably Blake Barker (Harvard), Derek Papagianopoulos (Virginia wrestling), Eric Olson (Northwestern), Dan Connaughton (Penn), Nico Papas (Columbia), Brendan O'Neil (Wake Forest), Mike McCaffrey (Holy Cross) and his brother, James McCaffrey (Boston College).

One of Papas' assistants, Mike Willey, has already been named successor, and has taken over as head coach effective immediately.

Papas spoke to ESPNBoston.com in depth about his retirement:

Why the time was right: "The stars all aligned for me, I've got a son who will be graduating, he’ll be playing college football somewhere next year, we'll find out in December where exactly. My wife and I look forward to following him. I really enjoyed watching Nico at Columbia, but I didn't get to watch him much as I wanted to, that was a big reason...To be honest, it's a young man's game, I had a great run at BB&N -- 10 winning records in a row, 77 percent winning percentage, four Super Bowls, three NEPSAC championships and an ISL title. But what I'm most proud of, we sent 47 kids off to play college football, from the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Ivy's, Patriot League down to the NESCAC. That's the biggest part, helping kids get to the next level.

"But like I said, it's a young man's game. When you coach in the ISL, it is a full-time job. You've gotta coach during season, and as you all know, recruiting in the ISL is legal and encouraged, so you've gotta go out and find players, and that takes a toll on you. I feel great, which is wonderful, but I wanna get out while I'm still nice and healthy."

What he'll miss most: "I'll miss the kids, the relationships I had with the kids. I'll miss the camaraderie with the coaches, all my friends are coaches whether they're with me or against me. The biggest thing I'll continue to do, is run one of biggest clinics in the country, New England Elite Camp, I'll continue to grow that. I also run a student-athlete consulting business, and I'm gonna continue to grow that as well. I'll keep the relationship I have with coaches, but also be involved with kids and their college choices."

What's changed the most in the ISL since his arrival: "When I got there, there was no film exchanging. Now, we obviously do it with the Hudl stuff. I think the league has become much more competitive, many more athletes are now choosing to go the private school route. I think you would agree the vast majority of strong athletes are playing in private or catholic schools now. I think the level of play since I first got to the league has really improved."

On the succession plan: "It was not an overnight decision for me. This is my 36th year coaching, I saw this coming and BB&N has been an absolutely great experience for me and my family, so I wanna make sure I leave it in good hands. Mike [Willey] played for me at Tufts, was an All-American. He is a bright, energetic young guy who understands the whole ISL, and he will do a great job at BB&N. He's one of the reasons I really felt comfortable stepping down."