Name the only California high school coach to win a state championship at three different high schools? The answer is Harry Welch, now in his third season at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Welch won his first state championship at Canyon High School in 2005, another at St. Margaret’s in San Juan Capistrano in 2008, and last fall at Santa Margarita Catholic. At the end of the 2009 season, the Los Angeles Daily News named Welch the California High School Coach of the Decade.
SMCHS is currently ranked fourth in the nation by USA Today’s Top 25 Prep Poll and play rival Mater Dei this coming weekend. Welch’s team plays in, arguably, one of the toughest conferences in the nation – The Trinity Conference – that also includes Servite, Orange Lutheran and Junipero Serra. According to Max Preps, this conference is among the top five conferences in the country.
Welch spent 18 seasons at Canyon High School and three at St. Margaret’s. In his 4lst year coaching and 24th as a head coach, Welch’s overall record is 243-52-2. He has had both a 46 game winning streak and a 43 game winning streak and, in addition to three state titles, has won nine California Interscholastic Federation titles. This fall the Eagles have already scored 44 points in one quarter. They led Carson High School 65-0 at the half and last week shut out Servite, 21-0.
Last year Welch decided to be more pro-active with both his players and coaches in appealing to their health. During the season he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but through treatments did not miss a game. But Welch felt he should be a voice for adult health-related issues.
“My wife and I discussed this issue,” said Welch. “We made a conscious decision that if we could help another man to have more time with his loved ones, then life would be more complete for me.”