The Best of the Bulldogs: Retiring Football Coach Chris Carroll Is Honored at Team’s Awards Banquet

Chris Carroll said he began his association with Lynn English High School football as a sideline helper at the age of 7, when his father, Steve, was an assistant coach on Gary Molea’s staff.

Carroll would explode on the local youth sports scene a few years later as an extraordinary left-handed pitcher and catcher for the 2000 East Lynn Little League All-Star team that advanced to the Massachusetts state final at Harry Ball Field in Beverly. In a stunning upset, a team from Pittsfield would sweep East Lynn (who had rolled through the winners’ bracket) by scores of 5-0 and 2-0 and claim the title in the double-elimination format.

Many Lynn sports fans believe it was as a football player that the multi-talented Chris Carroll distinguished himself the most, becoming a star quarterback at Lynn English and later leading the Northeast-10 in interceptions as a cornerback for the Bentley University football team.

At the Lynn English awards banquet, Chris Carroll reflected proudly on his six-year head coaching experience, but not before his assistant coaches, Alberto Rodriguez, Sam Hill, and Matt Griffin, took the podium to praise his exceptional leadership and dedication to the program.

Rodriguez recalled competing against Carroll while he was a Lynn Classical Ram and Carroll was a Lynn English Bulldog.

“He got the better of me and I really didn’t like him – I’m going to be honest with you,” said Rodriguez, drawing a hearty laugh from the audience. “He was on the other side beating my teams. But I talked to him – I think we met up at Rolly’s and we talked about me coming over to coach and he welcomed me with open arms as if we never even played against each other.

“It’s been great ever since and I’ve learned so much football and I’ve grown so much as a coach,” lauded Rodriguez. “I just want to thank you for the opportunity to coach, and more importantly, just to be a friend.”

“You’ve been like a big brother to me my whole life,” Sam Hill told Carroll in his remarks. “It’s really been incredible. I learned so much from you. I was supposed to be linebackers coach and we came in and we started drawing it up on the white board and incorporating the same 4-3 [defense] in college and things just kind of clicked. We’ve done a lot of great things together. I just want to thank you for everything. It’s been a great run.’’

Matt Griffin said he began playing football with Carroll when they were 7 years old “and we’ve been rocking together ever since.”

Griffin then read a list of Carroll’s coaching accomplishments that included being a two-time NEC champion, 2017 Boston Globe Coach of the Year, 35 victories, a Division 3 North final appearance, “and a 4-2 record against that school from the other side of town.”

“I think one of things that he would be the most proud of is the multiple guys sent to the college level, and last, but not least, he coined the phrase, ‘How ‘bout them Bulldogs’.’’

Carroll then stepped to the microphone and delivered his sixth and final speech at the Bulldogs’ awards banquet.

“I want to thank my wife, Kerri, and my mother [Anne] – a lot of sacrifice went into helping me coach over the last six years – I really appreciate everything that was done,” began Carroll.

Carroll said he outlined his goals and philosophy when he took the job. “I wanted the program respected. I wanted the kids to want to play for Lynn English football. That was important to me. And I wanted the parents to be part of the program. I wanted it to be a true program, not just something that kids came through and keep going. I wanted it to be a whole program. I wanted people to have pride wearing a Bulldog hoodie or kids playing at Lynn English.”

Carroll said he is proud of where the football program stands today.

“During the last six years, we won a lot of games, lost some games. There were ups and downs, but overall I truly believe the program is in a better place now,” said Carroll. “I know the kids value working hard, working as a team, and being dedicated. I hope I was able to serve as a good role model for you guys, because that’s essentially what I always strived to be.”

Carroll said he’ll remember the great relationships he formed with the coaches, players, and parents through the years.

“Thank you to all the parents who’ve come through the program for trusting me with your son and helping enforce some of the discipline and hard work I was trying to instill in them,” said Carroll.

He also thanked his coaching staff. “You guys are great. I appreciate your dedication and your loyalty to the program and to me personally.”

Carroll said coaching a high school football team takes many hours of time beyond the practices and game nights. He then told the players and parents why he was stepping down as head coach.

“I can’t give it 100 percent anymore,” said Carroll candidly. “I probably could give it 90 percent, but I can’t give it 100 percent. To me, that’s the expectation I always expect from you, so if I can’t do that, then I can’t do this as much as I want to do it.”

He saved his heartfelt parting words for his players. “You guys are what make coaching fun. Coming to work every day and knowing that I helped to coach you all is something that always motivated me to be the best version of myself,” said Carroll. “I hope you learned as much from me as I learned from you, and I hope you know that leaving the program was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I’m proud of what we accomplished together and I just want to say thank you for always giving me your best.”

Chris Carroll, one of the most illustrious of all Lynn English athletes, has left the football program in excellent shape. The torch is now passed to Mackenzie Charles who will now carry on the outstanding tradition that is Lynn English Bulldogs football.

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