In Play with Tom Markowski

Catholic Central's Tom Mach is honored before Boys Bowl, says it's the people who are important, not the awards

Football   | Tom Markowski

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Novi – The year the United States celebrated its bi-centennial was the year Detroit Catholic Central issued in a new era for its football program.

Few knew of Tom Mach back then. Outside of the coaching staff at Southgate Aquinas, where Mach served as an assistant, and at Wayne State University where Mach distinguished himself as a fine defensive back, Mach had remained rather anonymous.

Mach, in his 40th season at C.C., has become the face of the program.

When Mach was hired as C.C.’s new head coach in 1976 many close to the program not only didn’t know the man but had little to go on as to which the direction it would take.

It didn’t take long for the results to reflect just what direction the program was headed. Three years later C.C. would win the Class A title, the first of 10 state titles Mach would bring to the school.

On Sunday the school gave back. Before its game with Birmingham Brother Rice, marking the 71st annual Boys Bowl game, Mach was honored at midfield in front of a sun-drenched, blue-clad faithful at C.C. School president Fr. John Huber announced that the field would now be known as Tom Mach Field.

To Mach it’s not about honors or awards, or even the victories. It’s about the people and the lives that he has touched.

“I never really pushed for any honors,” he said. “It happens. It’s nice for the former players coming back. Knowing you kind of had something to do with their lives, that’s what it’s about. People send you notes that the program has provided them morals to live by and given them values.”

If nothing else Mach has remained humble. Many in his position would find reason to boast. Not Tom Mach.

Throughout his 40 years at C.C. the program maintained its strength in the community and within the Catholic League. Few programs has earned the respect C.C. has during this period. In addition to the 10 state titles, C.C. finished runner-up six other times and 16 times it has won the league title. After defeating Brother Rice for the first time in four year, Mach has 352 career victories, nine behind Mike Boyd (retired) of Waterford Lakes who’s third on the all-time list.

This season C.C. is 4-1 after defeating Brother Rice, 35-7. Mach and his program has rebounded well from a 2014 season that saw the Shamrocks finish 4-5.

Mach has received numerous honors over the year, most notably his induction into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 joining fellow league coach, Al Fracassa, the former coach at Brother Rice, who was in attendance for Mach’s latest honor.

Mach’s teams have always been known as defensive-minded with an emphasis on a strong running game. The play the exemplified Mach’s offense is the wham.

The C.C. tradition goes back to the 1940s, which included the start of Boys Bowl game in ’44 against Boystown, Neb.

When Mach came to C.C. the school was located on West Outer Drive on Detroit’s west side. It moved to Redford in 1978 and has been in its current location since July of 2005.

It wasn’t until its move to Novi that the Shamrocks had a home field it could call its own. Before C.C. would play its home games at fields at schools such as Livonia Clarenceville and Redford Union. For a stretch C.C. and Brother Rice would play their Boys Bowl games at Wisner Stadium in Pontiac.

What Mach has done is to continue the tradition and enhance the program. 

“(The dedication) was very nice,” Mach said. “It’s a great honor for me. Forty years have gone by like a breath in a cold wind. Catholic Central is a great school. It’s been wonderful here.”