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Championship-winning SF football coach takes on new role outside city

Menlo offensive line coach Barry McLaughlin speaks to his team during halftime of the Knights' 18-0 win over Palo Alto in Atherton, Calif. on Sept. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

When Barry McLaughlin stepped down from the head coach position at Sacred Heart Cathedral in February, it sounded like he’d be stepping away from the sidelines for a while.

But the championship-winning coach couldn’t resist the gridiron’s pull.

“After a few months away from coaching, I kinda missed it,” said McLaughlin, who led the Fightin’ Irish to the Central Coast Section (CCS) Division III and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division 4-A titles in 2021.

Less than six months after resigning from the job at SHC, where he still works as a biology teacher, McLaughlin is coaching the offensive line at Menlo School in Atherton.

The new role’s location makes managing family life, work and coaching duties easier.  

McLaughlin moved with his wife and son from Daly City to Belmont in recent years. While the commute from Belmont to Cathedral Hill in the morning and the drive from SHC down to Atherton in the afternoons can be taxing, he’s able to return home to Belmont immediately after practice.

When discussing his decision to resign from his prior position, McLaughlin explained that he had an epiphany when watching the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. While watching the game with 7-year-old son, Logan, he realized it was his first opportunity in a year to actually watch a game with his son and teach him about football. Logan, who attends nearby Belmont Oaks Academy, was present on the sidelines throughout Menlo’s 18-0 win over Palo Alto on Saturday.

Football has been a part of Logan’s life from before he was born. He’s named for Logan, Utah, where his father played at Utah State University and met his mother.

'It’s Just a Different Vibe'

The atmosphere at Menlo is markedly different than that at SHC, where McLaughlin still has good relationships with his biology students and former players.

“It’s been very welcoming,” he said of Menlo, before immediately adding, “not that it wasn’t welcoming up there. It’s just a different vibe, not smack-dab in the city.”

The Knights play most of their home games on Saturdays, allowing him to check out his former players on occasional Fridays at Kezar Stadium. He still has a good relationship with his former defensive coordinator, Antoine Evans, who now serves as SHC’s head coach.

The closest relationship McLaughlin had on his staff at SHC, though, was clearly with offensive coordinator Mike Hill. Hill took the same position at Menlo, and it made for an easy fit once McLaughlin realized he couldn’t resist the opportunity to coach.

Menlo offensive line coach Barry McLaughlin and offensive coordinator Mike Hill speak with quarterbacks Jake Bianchi and Mikey McGrath (16) during halftime of the Knights' 18-0 win over Palo Alto in Atherton, Calif. on Sept. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“Everyone has been super positive here,” McLaughlin explained.

With just 28 players on the varsity roster, most of the linemen McLaughlin works with start on both offense and defense.

“It’s been great working with him,” said Avery Romain, who plays offensive tackle and defensive end. “He’s been coaching for 20 years, he played in college, he’s been all around. He’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.”

Menlo is off to a 3-1 start in 2022 despite graduating record-setting quarterback Sergio Beltran and wide receiver Carter Jung off a 2021 squad that went 12-1.

Menlo offensive line coach Barry McLaughlin speaks to his team during the second quarter of the Knights' 18-0 win over Palo Alto in Atherton, Calif. on Sept. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“The experience really shows in practices and when he makes game scripts,” Romain said when asked about working with McLaughlin.

On a staff filled with reserved, calm voices, McLaughlin’s infectious energy, which was on display last year during SHC’s “Big Steppin’” celebrations, stands out.

“It gets you going, seeing a coach that cares that much about the game,” Romain said. “He’s been helping with special teams, and the first game of the season, we had a kick return touchdown. He sprinted all the way down the sideline to the end zone, running with the returner.”

“He’s not a coach that needs direction,” head coach Todd Smith added. “He has direction. He’s an authoritative voice on the front.”

Menlo rounds out non-league play this week in Pleasanton with a rescheduled game at Amador Valley (3-1). The Knights don’t have any San Francisco teams on their schedule, but if they can finish in the top four of the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) Bay Division, which features the likes of Menlo-Atherton (2-2) and Sacred Heart Prep (4-1), a possible playoff matchup with a West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) team could be in the works. Had St. Ignatius completed a comeback against Wilcox during the 2021 postseason, the Knights and Wildcats would have squared off in a section championship game.