One day Mickey McCarty will have time to reflect on an 18-year career full of championship runs at Neville High School. That day hasn’t yet come, though.
Oh no, those gears are still turning.
In the same ways McCarty downplayed a 39-game win streak in 2016, the former Neville head coach deflected the many accolades and achievements throughout his time at the school. Why? It’s always about looking ahead to the next challenge for Neville’s newest principal.
“Honestly, I think as time goes on I think I’ll have a little more time to reflect on that,” McCarty said. “I think the things that have always stood out to me, and the things I always go back to, are the relationships we build with staff and players. We’ve had a few championship years and you certainly can’t look those over. Those are uniquely special. I was told by a veteran coach one time, 'You ever win one and your fortunate enough to win others, that first one is going to stand out.' We were lucky enough to win one and a few others along the way.”
McCarty leaves Neville with a gaudy list of accolades. He’s won more than 80 percent of his games in his career and came just three wins shy of the 200 club in just 18 years of coaching.
Consistency was one of the things McCarty highlighted as being most proud of, but his four state championships at Neville put him in elite company. In fact, there are only six high school football coaches in the state’s rich history who have won more state championships than McCarty.
When McCarty accepted the head-coaching job in 2002, he set out with a mission to add stability to a program that already had a proud tradition of winning football games.
“One of the things I certainly wanted to do was move it forward and leave a mark,” McCarty said. “I didn’t think we were in a bad place when I took over other than the head coaches going through the door for four years in a row here. That part of it there was some instability that when I took over, that was the thing that was the most tumultuous.”
McCarty’s first year saw him manage a 2002 team with one of the biggest prospects in the entire country. Robert Lane was the No. 1 player in the state at the time, and as he entered his senior season, McCarty was his one constant in the program.
“He was on the staff those four years we had all those different head coaches,” Lane said. “Mickey inherited a great senior class that year, and we went to the semis. You could just tell he was a young and upcoming coach. For any rookie coach to go to the semifinals in Class 5A or 4A, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. He’s grown into a legend at Neville.”
McCarty won his first championship in 2009 and followed with another in 2011. The Tigers won championships in 2014 and 2015 before losing to Edna Karr in the 2016 Class 4A State Championship Game. Karr’s victory over the Tigers snapped a 39-game win streak, which McCarty will admit years later was both exhilarating and nerve-racking.
“I was guarded to talk about the streak,” McCarty said. “Thinking back, I didn’t like talking about it too much. We were trying to stay true to our process every day. That was such a meaningful part of my career. Was there added pressure? In a sense. It sure was a fun ride, though.”
The Neville faithful might’ve enjoyed the ride even more, Coach.
Though he’ll be without a headset, McCarty will be roaming the sidelines on Friday nights in the future as the school’s newest principal.