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Before new Warren head football coach Bryan McNulty instructs his players how to hit with the physicality that made him an all-state linebacker, he will teach how to slap.
If at any time this spring a Warren softball player collides violently with an opposing player, please, moms and dads, don’t blame the coach and scream angrily, “He taught them that!”
Warren tabbed the 37-year-old McNulty as its new head softball coach last summer. When longtime Blue Devils head football coach Dave Mohapp announced his resignation last fall after 17 seasons and a school-record 109 wins, McNulty, a former Mohapp assistant, applied for that job, too.
Tuesday night, Warren’s school board officially approved McNulty’s hiring as just the fourth head football coach at the school since 1970. Lake Forest College’s safeties coach the last two falls, McNulty has taught physical education the last seven years at Warren’s O’Plaine campus.
“We’ve had such great, great head coaches,” McNulty said of guys such as Mike Kunkle (1970-84), Reggie Hughes (1985-1996) and Mohapp (1997-2013). “I think Dave Mohapp really put us on the map as far as being a football school around here. His tireless effort was just unbelievable. He and (assistant coach) Rocco Oddo, both of them, they’re just workers. They did so much for the school. To be able to take over after Dave and Rocco, it’s beyond words how honored I am. I’m excited.”
Warren has hired a man’s man, 6 feet 2 with a thick frame and an impressive background.
McNulty was an all-state linebacker at Naperville Central (Class of 1995), where he was voted the DuPage Valley Conference’s defensive player of the year his junior and senior seasons.
He was an All-American at the College of DuPage, before earning a scholarship to Northern Michigan. After earning his degree, the physical education major worked in business for six years, before going back to school and earning a second bachelor’s degree, this one from Trinity International.
He student-taught at Warren, got hired full-time and started coaching football and softball.
He worked with Mohapp from 2007-11, serving as the varsity’s secondary coach for four seasons and linebackers coach for another. At the same time, he served three seasons as the sophomore team’s defensive coordinator and the 2011 campaign as its head coach.
McNulty even coached boys basketball for two seasons and was a varsity assistant on head coach Chuck Ramsey’s 2010-11 squad that placed second in the Class 4A state tournament.
“I’ve had quite a plethora of experiences while I’ve been here, athletically,” McNulty said with a laugh.
His familiarity with Warren’s student-body and the school’s culture should bode well for him.
“Absolutely,” McNulty said. “I’ve never looked for another job or anything like that. These kids are tremendous. This community is tremendous — the diversity, everything that comes with it. I’m really glad that they gave me this opportunity. I’m thrilled.”
McNulty wasn’t exactly pursuing other head-coaching opportunities and possibly moving his family, calling his list of potential places where he might seek a head-coaching opportunity “really, really short.” He and his wife Jamie live in Wadsworth and have three children: Lexi, 14, a freshman gymnast at Carmel, Aleigha, 12, and Brendan, 5.
His mother lives in Waukegan.
“I was content staying at Lake Forest College and continuing to move up the ranks there as an assistant,” McNulty said. “But when (the Warren position) came open, it was just too good of a fit. This was the place that I wanted to be. I was patient and, luckily, things worked out for me.”
Football-wise, Warren fans can expect McNulty to field a squad with tenacity similar to one coached by Mohapp. Which is a good thing considering the Blue Devils went to the playoffs 13 times in Mohapp’s 17 seasons.
“Dave and I have a lot of similarities,” McNulty said. “We both really believe in being physical. We want to be a very physical football team. What we do offensively — to be honest with you — can change from year to year. It really depends on our kids and what we have. Defensively, we’re going to line up most likely in a 4-3 and we’re going to try to get after you.”
McNulty is focused on ball — softball.
Despite the many snow banks outside that dwarf even a guy of his size, Warren softball is set to begin its season in about another four weeks.
“I’m 100 percent committed to (coaching softball) this year, without a doubt,” McNulty said. “At the end of the year — and it was the same when I coached varsity basketball, too — I’ll sit down with my wife. We’ll have a conversation and we’ll figure out what’s best, and if (coaching) both (sports) is doable or not.
“But right now, I am locked and loaded, and getting ready to start March 3 and be the head varsity softball coach.”
The ol’ linebacker can’t wait for the hitting to start.
*Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64