Marist alum leads Rams to Super Bowl, marks more DeKalb excellence

Sean McVay led the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory Feb. 13, making McVay—an alum of Marist School in DeKalb County—the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl championship was McVay’s first, but Marist Head Coach Alan Chadwick said the Rams’ head coach has a long history of championship football.

“He grew up around the game,” said Chadwick. “His grandfather coached professional football and was the GM for the 49ers back in their heydays. [McVay] grew up playing catch with Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. His dad played college football and is a very intense and competitive individual. You see it in Sean. His leadership capabilities he had when he was with us were off the charts.”

Chadwick said the Super Bowl was up in the air the whole time, but that a few good play calls and a few good players helped the Rams to victory.

“I was worried when the Rams missed that extra point on their second touchdown. It was something that loomed all the way through the rest of the game,” said Chadwick. “LA’s offense kind of bogged down, but they came back to take the lead. They had some great play calls in there, and their big-time players came up big for them in those big situations.”

Chadwick credited McVay for his competitiveness and play calling but also his ability to build a talented coaching staff and roster. It took those components coming together for the Rams to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

McVay showed some of those same attributes when he was the top football player in all of Georgia during his high school days in DeKalb.

During his time at Marist, McVay led the War Eagles to a 14-1 record and a state championship as a senior. He was the first player in Marist history with 1,000 or more rushing yards and 1,000 or more passing yards in consecutive seasons and was named the Georgia 4A Offensive Player of the Year over players such as Calvin Johnson.

“He was a starting defensive back for us as a sophomore, which is pretty unusual, but he just had great skills,” said Chadwick. “There were even a lot of players who wanted him to be the quarterback, but at that time we had a senior quarterback who was playing really well.”

Despite the leadership skills and pedigree that McVay had at Marist, Chadwick said it wasn’t always obvious that McVay was going to be a coach.

“I never really get that feeling with our guys. A lot of guys are very sharp, have good experience from being around the game for so many years, and communicate well, but I don’t usually see our guys in that vein because they rarely ever go into coaching. If you look back and see the qualities he had, you can see why he became a good coach.”

“He loved it, lived it, and breathed it. So much every single day that it was a part of his DNA,” added Chadwick.

McVay wasn’t the only DeKalb County alumni leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. Thomas Brown—a Tucker native and graduate of Tucker High School—is the Rams assistant head coach and running backs coach.

Chadwick said seeing the two DeKalb County products team up wasn’t a surprise after the way they competed and respected each other in high school.

“They competed against each other several times when Thomas was at Tucker. I think they had some great respect for each other, even back then. He knew the kind of competitor Thomas was, and Sean doesn’t forget anything. He has a computer chip in his brain,” said Chadwick.

Chadwick added that the Super Bowl was another example of how prominent Georgia is becoming in sports at a national level.

“There were a lot of Georgia connections in that game. On both sides,” said Chadwick. “Georgia has had a great year with the Braves, the Bulldogs, and all of the connections we had in that Super Bowl.”

Several players in the Super Bowl were also from metro Atlanta high schools, and Marist could be on the verge of adding to that total in the coming years. John Fitzpatrick—a tight end who helped UGA win its national championship in January—is a Marist graduate who will enter the NFL Draft this season.

Marist graduate Kyle Hamilton is also in the NFL Draft and projected as high as No. 2 overall, meaning he could become the War Eagles’ first-ever first-round draft pick.

“[Fitzpatrick] made the decision to enter the draft this coming April. We’re excited for him and the possibility he may have a career in the National Football League,” said Chadwick. “Kyle Hamilton, a free safety at Notre Dame, is going into the draft. He’s projected to be in the first five or six picks of the draft. That would be the first we would have in Marist history, but we have had two former players who left our school, and both went on to be first-round draft picks.”

As for Marist’s football program, Chadwick said the post-graduate success is promising to see and speaks to the coaching and discipline his staff passes down to the players.

“I’d like to think that it’s part of the process we have in place in Marist,” explained Chadwick. “The coaches we have that are so good at what they do—challenging them to be the best they can be and the discipline we have in our program.”

Chadwick said those characteristics help former players such as McVay, but they also help the players who choose paths other than football.

“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. It’s also the talent he brings to the table and the experience he has. Everyone followed him everywhere and believed in him so much,” said Chadwick. “I think all of those things are part of the process that helps lead these guys onto the next level and to be successful not just in football and sports but in life in general.”

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