Brian Pafford said he’s dreamed about being Portsmouth High School’s head football coach ever since he can remember. It took longer than he expected, but his dream came true.
Pafford accepted the Portsmouth job Tuesday morning, one day after former head coach Russ Russo resigned. Russo was hired in April.
“I was shocked,” Pafford said when he was asked about Russo’s resignation. “I never saw it coming.”
Russo, who works for the Portsmouth Police Department, said he resigned because a new career opportunity presented itself that he couldn’t pass up. He spent the last 16 seasons as an assistant coach at Portsmouth.
“I’m not a young guy, and you have to get these things when they’re still out there,” Russo said. “I had an idea things would play out the way they did. The program is in good hands.”
Pafford, 46, was a finalist when Portsmouth was looking to replace Bill Murphy, who resigned after the 2012 season. Murphy had been Portsmouth’s head coach since 1995.
Pafford graduated from Portsmouth in 1985. He was the head coach at York (Maine) High School for five years in the 1990s, but has spent most of his coaching career as an assistant at Portsmouth.
“The reason I went to York was to get a shot at the Portsmouth job,” Pafford said. “I did it to get me ready for a coaching job at a bigger school.”
Like Russo, Pafford was part of the coaching staff that helped the Clippers win the last two Division III championships. Portsmouth has appeared in the Division III title game in each of the last five years.
Pafford said he plans to meet with the team this afternoon. The first day NHIAA football teams can practice is Aug. 14.
“I don’t think we’ll miss a beat because pretty much everybody (on the coaching staff) is coming back,” he said. “Our senior class has a bunch of talented, athletic and hard-working kids. I’m excited and ready to go.”