By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Success in high school football brings more opportunities for players and coaches to pursue their talents at the next level.
If Charlotte High School continues its winning ways in the playoffs, they might just have to begin a search for a new offensive coordinator once the season ends.
No, Larry Marsh isn’t leaving for another coaching job, but thanks to his new playoff beard he will likely be heavily recruited by some kind of mall Santa organization before the end of the season.
“It started out as something in jest, just to lighten up the week of Port Charlotte,” Marsh said.
The typically clean-shaven Marsh came to practice one day with a little stubble on his face, and it didn’t go unnoticed by players Jacob White or Travon McClary. The two wideouts razzed their coordinator, and convinced him to ditch the razor until the next time the Tarpons lost a game.
That was now close to five weeks ago.
“For some reason I didn’t shave that day,” Marsh said. “They jokingly said, ‘oh you’re a little scruffy there. Did you forget to shave this morning?’ I thought it was just nice they noticed.”
Marsh’s beard has become a hot topic among the Tarpons, as his white whiskers continue to grow, and comparisons to Sean Connery have been made.
According to Marsh, his wife is a fan of the beard, but wishes he would trim it more.
Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop says Marsh isn’t allowed to shave the beard because its become good luck.
Waldrop and Marsh have been together for more than two decades. The head coach recognizes the advantages of having a coaching staff with a lot of shared experience.
“It’s great to have the continuity,” Waldrop said. “It’s pretty cool, you know, because we’re all on the same page.”
Marsh, 75, has been the offensive coordinator at Charlotte for 22 season, a little less than half of his 52 years of coaching experience. He’s coached in Connecticut and Tallahassee prior to coaching in Punta Gorda.
Prior to getting his start as a coach, Marsh was a quarterback in high school in Massachusetts, and then in college at Norwich University in Vermont.
“I’ve just done it my whole life,” Marsh said of being involved in football. “Maybe I’m too dumb to know anything else because I’ve always done football. It’s just something I love.”
Over his many seasons with the Tarpons, he was able to narrow his most dynamic players coached at Charlotte down to three: wideout Elgin Hicks, wideout Dishon “Pacman” Platt and fullback Mike Bellamy.
But he couldn’t narrow one team down to his favorite.
“I think it goes to the reason I’ve been coaching for 52 years is because I really love them all,” Marsh said. “Each one brings something to the table. Maybe not as much talent, but a lot of hardwork and stuff like that. We can have a lot of athletes, but they’re all different.”
This 2016 team has the potential to be near the top of that list if they continue to win, but then they might also be remembered as his last team before he begins his new career starring in family holiday photos.