Africentric Early College
New coach eager to build Nubians
After being an assistant or head football coach at the college level for more than two decades, Todd Murgatroyd wanted to stay in the game this offseason but wasn't interested in moving "to North Dakota to coach linebackers for $25,000 a year."
He found a landing spot closer to his residence in Hilliard that will add a new experience to his resume when he agreed to take over as the Africentric Early College coach over the summer.
Murgatroyd knows his latest task is a difficult one considering the Nubians never have had a winning season and went 5-25 in three seasons -- including 0-10 a year ago -- under former coach Eugene Barrett.
The Nubians will have about 30 players when they play host to Linden-McKinley in their opener Friday, Aug. 30.
"I've been a college coach for 26 years, but I wanted to stay here in Columbus," Murgatroyd said. "It's a challenge, but I'm excited about it."
Murgatroyd has an experienced quarterback to work with in junior Trevon Potts (5-foot-10, 175 pounds). Potts, who was special mention all-district in Division VI, will run what Murgatroyd calls a "no-huddle, run-and-shoot" offense.
After having underclassmen in several key positions a year ago, the Nubians again will have a young look.
Junior Michael Hartway is back to lead a wide receiver corps that also should include freshman Landon Martin. Senior Darius Brown-Walker is at tailback, although there are times that Africentric will go with no backs.
Trevonn Saunders was lost to graduation after making first-team all-district at wide receiver.
"I've coached every position, and I know what I want on offense," Murgatroyd said. "We want to try to get our athletes out in space."
The Nubians gave up a program-record number of points during an 84-26 loss to Whetstone and also allowed at least 70 points three other times.
Leading what Africentric hopes is an improved defense are senior Joe Muhammad (LB) and junior Keaniyel Rice (DB).
Murgatroyd spent the last three years as an assistant at Wilmington College. He also previously served as an assistant at the University of Tennessee, Hawaii, Kent State and Otterbein and under Jim Tressel at both Youngstown State and Ohio State.
From 2002-06, he coached Urbana University to a 15-29 mark that included the first winning season in program history in 2005.
The only non-losing season for Africentric's program came in 2008, when it won all three of its non-league games and finished 5-5. Africentric has won just 20 games since beginning play in 2003.
The Nubians will compete in Division VII after the OHSAA's expansion last spring to seven divisions.
"This year we have each other's back," said Potts, who is in his third season as the Nubians' quarterback. "(Murgatroyd) is building unity inside of us. We're brothers now and he's getting us prepared for the first game."