During last year’s football season, there was a new face on the sideline and one that was quite recognizable. That was MHS Alumni and first year teacher Witche Exilhomme. The reason he was back down on MacDonald Stadium’s field last year would have big implications for this year. In the offseason, now former head coach Steven Freker, would step down from his football coaching duties and pass them on to Exilhomme.
Before coming back home to Malden, Exilhomme was the Defensive Coordinator at Milford Academy which is one of the top Prep schools in the nation. Last year during remote learning, Exilhomme had become one of the new teachers at MHS and was teaching history.
According to Malden High School’s Athletic Director Charlie Conefrey, “we normally put a committee together consisting of Christopher Mastrangelo, Stephanie Sibley, [their] trainer Jennifer Sturtevant, [his] assistant Jeanne Marquardo, Dan Jurkowski and [himself] to interview candidates for any coaching positions at the high school.” One of the qualities that stood out to Conefrey about Exilhomme was “he is a Malden High School graduate [and] he played football for the program." He said that "it is always good to have someone come [back] and return to help out who is familiar with his surroundings, so [they are] really excited to have him as head coach.”
Some other goals that Conefrey had about the season regarded the players and their participation this year. “[They] do not want any kids dropping out because of grades,” said Conefrey. He explained that “[he] understand[s] if injuries would take a player out, but [they] do not want anybody quitting on the team mid-season because this is a start to rebuild the program.” He had also mentioned that “however many players [they] start the season with, is the amount [they] want on the team to end the season,” because if "[they] have 60 today, then [they] want 60 on Thanksgiving.”
Freker expressed tons of appreciation for Exilhomme and his new achievement. “[He] was thrilled when [MHS] got Exilhomme” because “[they] were hoping to get the right coach to lead the team forward and someone who had the right qualities [they] were looking for and coach Exilhomme was the right guy [they] needed to lead the program and help [their] student athletes.” Freker added on saying “he has an incredible amount of football knowledge, and most importantly, knowledge of dealing with life issues and with young student athletes who need direction.”
Coach Freker said “he is an excellent role model and has so much to share from his own life experiences that will be so valuable for these players as he coaches them this year and in the future.” He continued on saying that, “he developed a good relationship with the students and fellow coaches which [he has] a feeling will help the team a lot.”
Commenting on his own experiences with Malden’s football program, Freker showed how much he cared about the team and the amount of effort he put in. He stated how “it was a big honor” since “[he] played for Malden High when [he] was in high school” and “[he] coached for 19 years in the 80s and 90s.” Freker expressed how he has been “able to come back to coach baseball and football for the past several years and [he is] happy that [he] was able to see student-athletes develop to become good citizens of the school.”
One of Freker’s new responsibilities still has him controlling the game in some form. Freker explained how he has “become an athletic sight manager for the athletic department at home games for football and other sports to support Conefrey who is the athletic director by being in charge of the game management.”
Coach Exilhomme was upfront and passionate about his feelings about becoming the Head Coach and what he plans to do with the program going forward. He explained how he felt “extremely proud, it [is] something [he is] very excited about and [he is] excited about the future that [they] have as a coaching staff for the program so it [is] going to be very fun for the next few years.”
Another great part he added was about his and the coaching staff’s commitment to the team. Exilhomme emphasized how “this [is not] something [his] coaching staff and [him] joined because [they] are broke or have financial issues,” it is because “[they] joined to compete to be the top team in the state and [they] are ready to put in the work that is required on and off the field to reach that.” On top of that, “[their] coaching staff wants to teach kids how to be football players and that football does not stop on the field,” since “it continues to the classroom and when they become grown men and then if they want to start a family.” Exilhomme further stated that “[they] do not want it to just be on the field, but how the kids act in and out of school.”
Talking more about his student-athletes, Exilhomme said “[he is] excited about the number of players [they] have because last year [they] finished with around 30 players, this year [they] had about 80 kids sign up.” He explained how as of right now, “[they are] at about 70, so [he is] excited to get kids to join the program and help build them for the years to come.”
He followed with “this is a team that has been together for only around six weeks and not over a couple of months.” And so ”putting things together like [their] weight lifting program or installing new plays and teaching kids what goes into a football team has been a little difficult, but [he is] proud of [the] players, especially [their] younger players since they are stepping up and competing with everyone.” Exilhomme is ultimately “excited for next year because these young guys will have more experience with [them] and they can come back to the field a lot stronger and faster than they did their first season.”
The goals Exilhomme wants for his team and the coaching staff are the things you want to hear from someone who is a new head coach. “[He] is bringing in a culture shift to change the mindsets that we have” as “winning will be a mindset here, hard work will be a mindset here [and] discipline will be a mindset here,” said Exilhomme. He stated that “[their] goal this season is to get better every week, it is to give [their] young players a lot of experience and knowledge to bring into the offseason.” In addition, “it is also to try and knock on Everett’s door when that game comes around” because “[they] want to send a message that Malden is no longer going to be pushed and bullied around by them so we can challenge for the top positions in the state.”
The impressions of Coach Exilhomme’s first game were positive despite the team being down several starters and more injuries occurring during the game. Conefrey said “[he] think[s] [they] did really well despite being down eight starters and injuries to two other key starters but [he] think[s] this team can come together and be fine.” He added that “[he] think[s] they played down to the very last second and they are doing the best with the personnel that they have.” Coach Freker echoed Conefrey’s thoughts about the game saying how “the game felt a lot closer than the final score and [they are] looking forward to better days ahead.” Exilhomme mentioned that “within the first half [they] went down another three starters, but a lot of [their] guys hung in through it and [he is] really proud of them.”
One issue that arose during the game was the amount of penalties committed by Malden. Conefrey said “if the team can clean up the penalties since [they] gave up too many yards to penalties, [he] can see [them] having four or five wins on the schedule which would help build our strong freshman class.” Freker had commented that “Malden had too many mistakes with turnovers and penalties” and “[it is] hard to win when you stop yourself with penalties and give the ball back to the other team.”
The new era of Malden High School Football looks bright with Coach Exilhomme and his staff at the helm. Everybody should be looking forward to Malden and their future.