Missoula’s Hellgate High School narrowed the pool of candidates for its vacant head coaching position to three this past weekend, including one local man.
Missoula’s Matt Softich is joined by Emmett Dougherty of Lewiston, Idaho, and Shaun Murgel, of Winnemucca, Nev.
The field was cut to these three men late last week with a hire expected as early as Monday this week before the decision was delayed a few more days, Hellgate athletic director Lynn Farmer said.
In the meantime, let’s see what we know about the three men left in the Hellgate hunt.
Matt Softich was the first head coach of the Missoula-based semi-pro football team, the Missoula Phoenix. The team came into existence in 2005 as the Raptors and Softich coached two-plus years before he resigned mid-season in 2007.
He led the team to two straight Northern Division titles in the Rocky Mountain Football League prior to leaving the helm.
Before that, Softich also served as an assistant coach for the Montana Grizzlies in the early 1980s and played his prep ball in Anaconda.
More recently, Softich has been working in youth sports with the Missoula YMCA while also running his own computer consulting business
Emmett Dougherty was most recently the head football coach at Lewiston High School in Idaho, which competes at the highest level of athletics in that state, Class 5A. Lewiston’s enrollment is quite comparable to that of Hellgate with just over 1,000 students.
Dougherty served as coach of the Bengals for 13 years before resigning after the 2011 season to spend more time with his family.
The coach had two runner-up finishes in the state playoffs for Lewistown and had a 70-58 record at the school.
In late 2013, he was hired as defensive coordinator for the Lewis-Clark Valley Loggers, a community-based football program for students of Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston and nearby Walla Walla Community College. Neither school supports a football program.
Shaun Murgel has been a defensive assistant at Albert Lowry High School in northern Nevada’s Humboldt County since 2004, but played his high school and college football in Montana.
Murgel went to Helena High before attending Montana-Western in the early 90s. The coach then bounced around the Montana prep circuit — Townsend (95-96) and Shepherd (96-00) — before returning to Western as defensive line coach until 2003 when he left for a stint coaching at the University of San Diego.
Lowry, which competes at Class AAA in the small town (pop. 7,396) of Winnemucca, made the second round of the 2013 state playoffs before losing out and finished the year with a 10-2 record. It was the school’s second straight 10-2 season and fourth second-round playoff exit in a row under Murgel and head coach Tim Billingsley.
Murgel also recently applied for a head coaching gig with Fort Pierce Westwood High School in Fort Pierce, Fla., around this time last year.
Who will fill the hole left when five-year head coach R.L. Boyles resigned in November? Hopefully we’ll know for sure by the end of the week.