NEW FRANKLIN, Ohio — It's officially the start of a new era for the Manchester Panthers.
The high school in New Franklin on Friday promoted former NFL linebacker and Akron native Jay Brophy to be its next head football coach. Brophy replaces the legendary Jim France, who led the team for 48 seasons.
The 59-year-old Brophy graduated from Buchtel High School in 1979 and went to the University of Miami where he helped the Hurricanes win their first national championship in 1983. A second-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins the next year, he would go on to play four seasons in the NFL and even started in the Super Bowl his rookie year (a loss to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers).
Brophy finished his playing tenure in 1987 with the New York Jets, and tallied two career sacks. He has since been an assistant coach at multiple Ohio schools (including Manchester), and went 20-15 as the head coach of St. Vincent-St. Mary from 2001-03 (coaching LeBron James during that first season) and 5-15 while leading Sebring from 2009-10.
Brophy will have big shoes to fill with the departure of France, who arrived at Manchester in 1971 after a single 3-7 season at Coventry and subsequently guided the Panthers to 398 wins, 23 conference championships, and a Division IV state runner-up finish in 1997 (a heartbreaking 31-24, quintuple-overtime loss to Valley View out of Germantown). He was named AP Coach of the Year three times, and his 401 total victories are the most of any high school football coach in Ohio history.
Check out 3News story on France from 2018, when he broke the wins record:
France announced his decision to step away from the sidelines in March, but will remain on as Manchester High's principal ( a position he's held since 1985) for the time being. He leaves Brophy with a team that finished 2019 with a 9-4 and lost to eventual D-V state champ Kirtland in the regional final, although the new coach will have to find a replacement for Ethan Wright after the three-time All-State running back graduated and committed to Cincinnati.