Wendell native Scott Woodward excited to be back in New England as Middlesex School’s new head football coach

Wendell native Scott Woodward, shown coaching at Kentucky this past season, took the position as head football coach at Middlesex School for the upcoming season.

Wendell native Scott Woodward, shown coaching at Kentucky this past season, took the position as head football coach at Middlesex School for the upcoming season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-15-2024 3:32 PM

Scott Woodward is making his return to Massachusetts. 

The Wendell native and Mahar Regional School alum won a pair of MIAA Division 3 state football titles before attending UMass, where he played four years of football with the Minutemen at quarterback. 

A football junkie, Woodward, the son of longtime Mahar athletic director and football coach Jim Woodward, stayed around the game after his playing career ended. He started as an offensive graduate assistant at Westfield State University before taking the offensive coordinator job at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he held the position from 2013-15. 

Woodward left Fairleigh Dickinson to return to UMass, where he served as an offensive assistant from 2015-18. He followed former Minutemen coach Mark Whipple to Pittsburgh, where he spent two years as an offensive quality assist for the Panthers. 

After his time at Pitt, Woodward joined his former teammate from the quarterback room at UMass — Liam Coen — at Kentucky, serving as the wide receiver coach. He held that title for three years. 

After much time as an assistant, Woodward will now be in charge of his own program next fall. He was recently named the head coach at Middlesex School in Concord, taking over a Zebra program that went 2-6 in the NEPSAC a season ago. 

“It’s obviously going to be different from what I’m used to but I’m excited to start this new adventure,” Woodward said. “I look at it as a challenge and something where I can prove to myself that I can get this done and change the momentum of the program at Middlesex. In the past, it’s been a pretty successful program. The last few years they haven’t been where they wanted to be and that’s why they made the change. I’m excited to be the guy in charge.” 

How did Woodward end up back in the Commonwealth? It started with a conversation with Belmont Hill coach Anthony Fucillo, a longtime friend, who had made the move from Harvard to Belmont Hill and was telling Woodward how much he enjoyed it. 

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Fucillo mentioned that the Middlesex job had opened up and Woodward decided to shoot athletic director Craig Najarian an email inquiring about the job. Woodward already had a relationship with Najarian, as Najarian had previously served as the athletic director at Catholic Memorial, a place Woodward had made stops at while recruiting for Kentucky. 

Woodward sent the email out on Dec. 23, Najarian got back to him within five minutes and that night, they got on the phone and talked about the position. A few weeks later, while back in Massachusetts for a wedding, Woodward made the trip to Middlesex for an official interview, where he was offered the job. 

After spending years in the college ranks, going to the prep level and coaching high school like his father did is something that appealed to Woodward. 

“I grew up on the practice field with my dad,” Woodward said. “I have a son that’s about to turn two years old. I lived a good childhood getting to be next to my dad all those years at Mahar. I feel like that’s not a bad way to do things. You just don't get that at the collegiate level with all the hours and everything else that goes with it. At Kentucky, I’d be gone before my son was awake and wouldn’t get home until after he went to sleep. That’s not how I want to be as a father. It’s a great move for my family. I’m still coaching ball, loving ball and am still the same competitive kid who wants to win every game. I want to do it the right way while also getting to spend more time with my family.” 

It’ll be an adjustment going from the highest level of Div. I football to the prep ranks, but it’s a challenge Woodward said he’s looking forward to. 

He’ll also have to adjust to running his own program for the first time, as he’s already seeing how much goes into being a head coach. 

“Craig texted me a month ago asking what type of blocking sled I wanted,” Woodward said. “One of the equipment managers asked me what kind of helmets I wanted. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve had someone do that stuff for me. It’s stuff like that that I’m going to have to have answers for because I’ve never had to think about things like that. It’s certainly a learning curve but I’m excited for the challenge.”

With his pedigree, recruiting players to come to Middlesex should be one of the easier parts of the job. 

Woodward attended Eaglebrook School in Deerfield as a kid, giving him familiarity with boarding schools. He also has plenty of experience at the D1 level, knowing exactly what those coaches are looking for when recruiting high school athletes. 

“I always enjoyed my time at Eaglebrook,” Woodward said. “I’m excited to get back to that lifestyle. Middlesex is a gold mine. It’s one of the top schools in the country and hopefully we can get the football program to be just as good. Being at the collegiate level, I know what coaches want from a college aspect. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is being able to find these kids their next home. I want to be part of that process. I told the kids when I visited that I’ll be your football coach, but I’ll also be a college counselor for you. There’s not many kids at Middlesex who are currently playing at the next level. I want to change that. I want this to be a place where you want to come to play college football. I’m going to do that and do it the right way.” 

He has plenty of connections at the collegiate level to help with that recruiting process. He feels his honesty will help him, as that’s how he approached recruiting with the Wildcats. 

“I have connections all around New England and around the country,” Woodward said. “I can get their film in front of the right people. I give honest feedback. I’m pretty good at watching film and understanding where you can play. Having honest conversations is one thing that pushed me to be known as a good recruiter. I’m always honest with the kids and I shoot them straight. Instead of lying, I always told them where they were in the pecking order. Most families and kids respect that and want to play with you more because of that.” 

Another change will come with the age levels Woodward is recruiting. In college, he was looking for the top high school athletes. Now, Woodward will be scouting players as young as the middle school level, and will have kids on the team who might not have any football experience. 

“We’re going to do this the right way,” Woodward said. “I’m not going to steal kids away from my buddies or other schools. We’re going to build this from the ground up, find those young kids, kids who can come in and play as freshmen and develop them the right way. On the flight back to Kentucky I got on my laptop and made a presentation called ‘Football 101’ that I’ll show them. It’ll be about getting back to the fundamentals, tackling properly, all that. It’s not something I’ve done before but I’m excited for the challenge.” 

When it comes to the fundamentals, it helps having a dad who preached those details on a daily basis during his time at Mahar. 

“I’ll lean on my dad for the high school coaching knowledge,” Woodward said. “He did this at a high level for 35-plus years. I offered him a spot as our d-line coach. Hopefully we can get him to Concord once or twice a week. You knew my dad meant business when he turns his hat backward. I’m hoping to see that look in Concord.” 

Woodward is excited to get started at Middlesex and build the program back to prominence.

“I want to create a program with good people and with good people around who I want to be with,” Woodward said. “I want to win a lot of football games and have fun doing it. So far, that’s been true.”