As an offensive mind, Jack Martinelli said John "Duffy" Doherty was ahead of his time as head football coach at Norwood High.
"He was almost a spread (offense) type of coach back then, he really opened things up, especially for Norwood, and other (teams) in the area, throwing the football, and spreading people out," recalled Martinelli, defensive coordinator for all of Doherty's 11 seasons on the sideline at Norwood (1971-81).
Doherty, who directed Norwood to a pair of Super Bowl titles and later guided the Curry College football program for 10 seasons, died Monday at 79 after a long illness.
A member of both the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame (1992) and the Curry Athletic Hall of Fame (2000), Doherty led Norwood to Division 1 Super Bowl victories in 1977 (14-8, over Arlington) and 1980 (20-14, over Brockton).
But it was his personality, humble, and firm but fair, that won over his colleagues and players.
"He was the best guy you could work with, from a kids' point of view, it was a great opportunity to play, and he was of the philosophy, he allowed coaches to coach and he kids to play," said Martinelli, who, thanks in part to his time alongside Doherty, has carved out a Hall of Fame coaching career of his own at Foxborough High the last 31 seasons.
"He was very unselfish person, and I believe, the lessons and the knowledge he imparted to anyone that surrounded him was his greatest gift, a lot of kids and coaches took with them the rest of their lives."
His first team at Curry, in 1983, was winless, but the Colonels went 7-2 the following year, the program's first winning season since 1978. His 1986 and 1987 squads were a combined 15-2.
Doherty later returned to Norwood as an offensive assistant under Joe Smith and served as the running backs coach at Curry for three seasons (1998-2000) under Steve Nelson. He leaves four children, including Gary, the athletic director and football coach at Framingham High, and Kevin, former defensive coordinator at Harvard.
"He was really a gifted family man, and great with kids, his home was always open to us," said Martinelli. "And on game day, his five to six coaches, he always let them have a say. He was very good about that."
Funeral services will be held 9 a.m. Saturday at Gillooly Funeral Home, 126 Walpole Street, Norwood, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Washington Street. Visiting hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Gillooly Funeral Home.
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