Sal Marchese a staple at Delsea Regional

Posted: December 8, 2011 by vindanton in Franklin Twp.

Crusaders stellar football coach preaches family, football and community

By Vin D’Anton – Franklin Twp. Blogger

Franklinville, NJ – When people hear the words “New Jersey High School football” the schools that come to mind are Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph’s Montvale…basically North Jersey teams hold the most publicity in the state. Then when you travel to Central Jersey, you have the three Toms River public High schools (North, South and East) Brick, Middletown South, Southern Regional, Red Bank Catholic and many more great programs from the popular Shore Conference. Perhaps a hidden gem in South Jersey is the Delsea Regional High School football program in Franklinville.

Sal Marchese has been the head football coach at Franklin Township’s high school for 19 years now, and in those 19 years, Marchese has been a winner. He has compiled an overall regular season record of 144-53-1 and a playoff record of 16-7. Let’s not forget the four state championships (Delsea has nine overall), two time runner up and seven divisional titles.

“Delsea and Delsea football is my life, I grew up around it. My father, Sal, was an offensive line coach here for 33 years and coincidentally my neighbor was Delsea’s longtime head coach John Oberg,” Marchese said. Oberg when he retired was the winningest coach in South Jersey history and he impacted Marchese’s life.

“After my father, coach Oberg is my coaching idol. I learned a lot from him. I played for him as well, and I was his quarterback and linebacker,” Marchese said. It was only fitting that Marchese played quarterback, for the Franklinville native and Delsea class of 1985 graduate grew up idolizing Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

After graduating from Delsea, coach Marchese got a football scholarship to Towson State (now Towson University) where he played strong safety. A year and a half later, he transferred to Glassboro State (now Rowan University) and played linebacker there.

“When I came to Glassboro, I actually coached 7th and 8th grade wrestling and some varsity as well at Delsea. I used to prefer wrestling, but the more I played football the more I fell in love with it. If I stuck with wrestling, my life would be completely different today,” Marchese said.

Marchese then spent five years as an assistant on the Buena High School football team under Chuck Donahue, another coaching idol for Marchese. “I learned a ton about football and coaching there under Chuck,” Marchese said.

“I had big shoes to fill when I took over here at Delsea 19 years ago, replacing coach Oberg,” Marchese said. But if Marchese had any critics, he proved them wrong. In 2000, in a year where the Crusaders weren’t expected to do much, they won their first state title under Marchese. Five years later, he had his proudest moment. Delsea went 12-0 in 2005 and won another state title.

“As the years went on, the pressure came off a lot. With these great kids and a great coaching staff, I can’t go wrong. Football is a sport where it is not all on the head coach, the staff is just as vital. You also need a good community behind you to have a good football program, and this community has been nothing but great to me and the team. I am beyond enough support from this school and the town,” Marchese said.

When Marchese has a rough day, he turns to his children. Jenna 11, Nina, 9 and Sal 4, always help the coach when he is down, even though it is tough for him to not bring football home with him. “I wish I could say that a rough day or loss doesn’t come home with me, but it does. I have my moods. But when I open the door and they are there to greet me or hug me, it helps me forget. I never bring it to the kids. It is usually my wife JoAnn who deals with the brunt of my moodiness, yet she is still 100% supportive with everything that comes with the job. She’s been great,” Marchese said.

Due to the love he has for his family, Marchese is staying put at Delsea. “I’ve had some interviews and offers over the years, both collegiate and high school, but I am comfortable here. It is a great environment and great community. It isn’t worth leaving,” Marchese said.

Coach admits that not one college offer would change his mind. “It is never going to happen. When I was younger I had some opportunities and I said no. Now, forget it. I am not going to uproot my family. I want them to participate in school and athletics here,” Marchese said.

“Recently, I thought about retiring from football and just continue teaching physical education. When I bought it up to the kids, they didn’t want any part of it. It is what they love and what they know,” Marchese said.

After high expectations this past season, the Crusaders finished 6-4, a season to which coach admits is disappointing for Delsea because of the rich tradition. The Gloucester County and South Jersey Coaches Hall of Famer is ready to get back on track next season.


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