CV grad Marquis takes winding road to become D coordinator at Wittenberg
During his days as a football player at Chartiers Valley, Dave Marquis, by his own admission, didn’t apply himself perhaps as much as he should have. That revelation might be surprising considering his background.
Marquis’ father, Gus, was the football coach (1988-94) and athletic director (1988-2006) at Chartiers Valley, so Dave Marquis grew up around plenty of coaches and was well-schooled in what was necessary to be successful.
“That was really a way to spend time with my dad as a young kid,” said Marquis, a 2001 CV grad. “I was at every practice. … Whenever I got to high school, I think I veered a little bit away from it.”
Marquis didn’t play football in college. He went to Kent State to get his degree in education, and, in that first year away from football, he had a revelation: He wanted to be a coach, too.
This month, he wrapped up the first season of his second stint as Wittenberg’s defensive coordinator. The Tigers, a perennial top 25 team in Division III, were 6-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference heading into their final game. A trip to the playoffs was off the table, though the Tigers still had a chance to tie Wabash for the top spot in the NCAC.
Through nine games under Marquis, Wittenberg ranked second in the conference in yards allowed (264.2 per game), second in interceptions (10) and fourth in sacks (24).
“At Wittenberg, our expectation is to win the league and get in the playoffs every year,” he said. “We had some injuries, and it didn’t really live up to our expectations.”
Marquis began his coaching odyssey as a student assistant at Kent State, then spent time at Randolph-Macon and Washington (Mo.). He returned to Kent State as a graduate assistant coaching defense, during which time the Golden Flash had a defensive tackle named Roosevelt Nix, currently a fullback with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His next stop was Dayton, where he spent two seasons in an intern role coaching the defensive line. Then it was back to Randolph Macon to be the team’s full-time linebackers and special teams coach.
“About the first seven years, I didn’t make a lot of money,” he said. “I wasn’t living a glamorous lifestyle.”
In 2015, he latched on with Wittenberg for the first time, becoming defensive coordinator in 2016. He returned to Dayton to become linebackers coach at the FCS school, but turnover on the Flyers’ staff nudged him back to Wittenberg.
“We were very excited to have him come back,” said Joe Fincham, Wittenberg’s coach since 1996. “Dave is very bright, and he understands the game very well. He’s also a driven guy. He holds himself and his players to a high standard, and I think guys enjoy playing for him.”
Said Marquis: “I have taken a little bit of a different career path … so there was a little bit of a chip on my shoulder to get that recognition. I think the thing you begin to realize as you get older is it’s not about the level; it’s about making an impact on the guys you coach and being around great people.”
When the offseason begins, Marquis will turn his attention to recruiting, and he plans on trying to make more inroads with WPIAL talent. Of course, he wants to be a head coach but is comfortable with his current situation.
“For me right now, being at Wittenberg is a great place, and it would probably take a lot for me to move on,” he said.
Fincham, however, is prepared for the inevitable.
“I definitely think he (can be a head coach),” Fincham said. “The assistants here, honestly, as much as you want to keep good guys, shelf lives for guys here are three to four years, and then a lot of times they move on to their next opportunity.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .