Detroit Catholic Central legendary football coach Tom Mach retired earlier this week after leading the Shamrocks for 41 years.
Mach guided Catholic Central to the Division 1 state championship game this past fall, losing to Detroit Cass Tech 49-20 at Ford Field to finish at 13-1.
With a 370-97 record, Mach is No. 3 on the state’s all-time record for wins behind Al Fracassa of Birmingham Brother Rice (430-117-7) and John Herrington (425-104-1), who is still coaching at Farmington Hills Harrison. Fracassa retired in 2013 after winning three consecutive Division 2 state titles.
Mach led Catholic Central to more state championship game appearances (17) than any other coach, earning 10 state titles, the last one coming in 2009.
“It was just time,” Mach said. “I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, but went back. I thought about it again and just felt like it was the right time.”
When asked what he wanted to be remembered by, Mach replied: “I want to be remembered for doing a good, honest job as a football coach, for developing our players to the maximum and doing things the right way, teaching them things that I think they should know as far as life is concerned.”
Catholic Central athletic director Aaron Babicz said Mach told him of his retirement when the two met in Mach's office on Tuesday.
“I thought he definitely had a few more years, but after 41 years of being such a great mentor he just felt like it was the right time," Babicz said.
“What we’re really doing is celebrating Coach Mach for the next few days. Obviously, we’ll be celebrating him as long as there is C.C. football around because it’s a legacy that he built and definitely put a stamp on, but we’re getting our ducks in a row, putting a committee together, and then we’ll probably open up the job next week.”
Mach, who will turn 70 this summer, taught health and physical education for 34 years before retiring in 2009. He is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
Mach said he plans to spend more time up north at his cottage during the summer months, especially August with his wife, Lynn. They will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this summer.
“We’ve had a lot of great teams, but I think our M.O. was the fact we were overachievers," Mach said. "Our kids worked tremendously hard to get where they got. We always preached about giving it our best shot and I’m proud of the program, proud of how we played. We played a smash-mouth, physical style and you can win football games that way because the kids believe it and they believe in each other.”
Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher had high praise for Mach, with the teams having a strong rivalry this decade. They squared off in the state title game in 2011, 2012 and 2016, with Cass Tech winning all three battles and Catholic Central defeating Cass Tech in the 2013 state semifinal.
“As I look back through the years, CC has been the standard and teams tried to duplicate but never mastered the Tom Mach system,” Wilcher said. “He had to be a rigorous, tireless worker because his system worked every year, and even on a down year it told players why you don’t cheat the system.
“I don’t know how many championships he won, but to me every year you’re on the field and you give a young man the opportunity to experience how to be a winner or how to achieve success, you’re a winning coach.
“I would like to thank him for the lesson he has taught me to make me a better coach, and for setting the bar so high so every coach will understand that it’s hard work and there are no short cuts in life to winning.”
Mach is the third Catholic League coach to either retire, resign or get fired since the season concluded.
Brother Rice fired Dave Sofran, who replaced Fracassa, and hired Adam Korzeniewski last week.
Detroit Loyola coach John Callahan resigned last month after having his teams play in the Division 7 state title game four of the last five years, losing in November to Pewamo-Westphalia. He said he still plans on coaching in the future.
Interested candidates for the Catholic Central vacancy should send their resumes to Babicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.