Marist School football coach Alan Chadwick is not surprised his former star quarterback Sean McVay is now coaching the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. The athlete who led his high school team to a state championship more than a dozen years ago is using the same skills he had then to get his current team to the National Football League championship game, he said.

Los Angeles Rams Coach Sean McVay was a star quarterback at Marist School. (Los Angeles Rams)

“Their success is due to his overall leadership capabilities,” Chadwick said in a recent interview. “He always had great confidence in himself and his players.”

The L.A. Rams take on the New England Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl 53 at downtown Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The matchup is a homecoming for McVay, who played four years for the Marist War Eagles under Chadwick’s tutelage and was the starting quarterback his senior year when the team won the Class AAA 2003 state championship title.

Alan Chadwick
Alan Chadwick

“I’m super happy for Sean; the whole school community is excited,” Chadwick said of McVay’s bid for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. “It’s all the kids are talking about.”

McVay’s “go-for-broke” mindset and his smarts on and off the field, Chadwick said, were keys to his success at the private Catholic school located on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven.

During his four years at Marist, McVay rushed for 2,600 yards and 40 touchdowns while also passing for 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. As a senior, he led the War Eagles to a 14-1 record, including the state title. Chadwick coached another state championship team in 1989 and his impressive Marist career includes trips to the state finals in 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1987, 2006, 2008 and 2017.

After graduating from Marist, McVay played college football for Miami University in Ohio as a wide receiver. He started his NFL coaching career in 2008 as an assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in 2010 began coaching for the Washington Redskins where he eventually became the offensive coordinator.

McVay made headlines when he was named the Rams’ head coach just two years ago, at age 30, becoming the youngest ever coach in the NFL. Now he’s the youngest coach to go to the Super Bowl.

Chadwick acknowledged he did not watch every Rams game this year. He’s still coaching at Marist and NFL Sundays are not always a day off for him and the team.

“Then as they continued to win, I watched more,” he said.

During his four years at Marist, Sean McVay, center, rushed for 2,600 yards and 40 touchdowns while also passing for 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. (Marist School)

That included watching the NFC Championship game between the Rams and the New Orleans Saints. When the Saints took an early 13-0 lead and the Rams were facing a fourth down and five yards to go, McVay called for a dramatic play. Johnny Hekker lined up as if he was going to punt, but instead threw a pass to cornerback Sam Shields, who ran for a first down.

“You can see him on the sidelines and his go-for-broke attitude,” Chadwick said. “When he ran that punt, that sparked their momentum … He’s just taken everything he does to a different level.”

Chadwick said McVay is also smart enough to get good people around him. “But he’s a superstar in his own right,” he added.

Sean McVay’s senior picture. (Marist School)

There are no official Marist Super Bowl watch parties that have been announced for the game. McVay’s 2004 classmates are gathering for a “show your support” rally on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Buckhead’s 5 Paces Inn.

Chadwick said he is not sure yet where he will be watching the game. “I’m still hoping for tickets to come my way,” he said. He knows who he’s rooting for, of course.

“I’m sending good wishes and prayers [McVay’s] way,” he said.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.