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No apology for winning

Posted: December 19, 2008 8:02 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2008 4:57 a.m.
CARSON - Unapologetic 'til the end.

That’s Harry Welch.

The word is almost overused but the best term to describe him is polarizing.

There are and have been people that hate the former Canyon coach’s guts.

And others who love him.

But what should he apologize for?


Isn’t that what you’d want out of a coach?

Welch, whose bitter divorce from Canyon High after winning a state championship landed him in San Juan Capistrano, led St. Margaret’s Episcopal School to a 59-7 pounding of Northern California’s Hamilton Union Friday night in the CIF State Football Championship Small Schools Bowl Game at the Home Depot Center.

Yet he was expected to apologize.

With his team up 52-0, the Tartans got the ball back on downs with 0.01 seconds left on the clock in the first half.

Most coaches, check that, 99 percent of coaches would tell their quarterback to take a knee.

Welch has built his career on bucking conventional wisdom.

His voracious play calling and going all in with the chips down helped Canyon upset the class of California football, Concord De La Salle, 27-13 in 2006’s Division I title game.

But with one-hundredth of a second and the ball inside the 10-yard line, Tartans quarterback David Mothander took the snap and went back to pass. He was hit hard, ending the quarter.

Critics would point back to 2006 when Canyon defeated Golden Valley 90-0 and say, “There’s Welch, running up the score again.”

“It’s the first half of the state championship,” Welch said after the game in the Tartans locker room with an incredulous look on his face.

“We’re playing football. Get out of our way.”



But it’s football.

The point is to win.

Welch pointed out afterward that his quarterback didn’t throw a pass in the second half.

He coached this game, exactly like he did with Canyon.

There were shades of Cowboys football.

A couple right off the bat.

The hard-nosed running game.

The gadget play.

The defensive swarm.

And the take-no-prisoners approach.

He turned a bunch of kids who show up to school in suits into bone crushers.

“They completely bought in,” he said of his players.

Before they knew it, Hamilton Union of little farm town Hamilton City was down 24-0.

And that was just the first quarter.

Three quarters later it was mercifully over.

Welch became the first head coach in California history to win two state titles in two different divisions.

And it’ll probably be a long, long time before another coach duplicates the accomplishment.

People give Welch a lot of credit, but also a lot of discredit.

He remembered in that Home Depot Center locker room when he returned to coach Canyon football in 2001. (Welch’s first stint with the Cowboys was 1982 to 1994.) He said there were messages before that season on his answering machine and letters that said: “Drop dead. The game has passed you by. You’ll never win again.”

It motivated him and Canyon won CIF-Southern Section divisional titles in 2005 and 2006 and the state crown in 2006.

People continue to accuse him of being difficult.

He admits he is.

They have called him a manipulator.

That’s the truth as well.

He manipulates kids to win.

But now, love him or hate him, his legacy continues to grow.

The numbers are staggering.

He is now 9-0 in CIF championship games, having won five divisional titles at Canyon and the one state title and two divisional titles at St. Margaret’s and the one state title.

Welch coached Canyon to a 46-game winning streak between 1983 and 1985 – then the state’s longest streak.

Welch is currently coaching the team with the state’s longest current winning streak – 43 games, of which he is responsible for 29 victories.

It’s hard to argue with those numbers.

In the end, for winning, Welch doesn’t need to say sorry.


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