Denver South names Ryan Marini its new football coach

Ryan Marini addresses South's Futures team on Saturday. (Courtesy of Denver South HS)

When Denver South athletic director Adam Kelsey announced to the school's football players who their next coach would be, the reaction couldn't have been any better.

"They went berserk," Kelsey said. "They went absolutely nuts."

That coach? Ryan Marini, who had been an assistant on Tony Lindsay's staff for the past two years, including time as a lower-level head coach. He's been a teacher at South for the past five years.

"He has a pretty extensive background," Kelsey said.

Included are stops at Littleton, Heritage, and Cherry Creek, as well as a basketball assistant under Vince Valdez when Lincoln basketball won its two state titles, and at Mullen.

"He's really learned from a lot of the best in the business," Kelsey said. "He's been in three state championships as an assistant coach."

Marini graduated from and played football at Heritage. He went on to play at Wartburg College in Iowa.

"I've coached all over the place, but my heart's always been in Denver Public Schools," Marini said. "I love DPS kids, I love the district. I've always wanted an opportunity to see if I could be a head coach, but I really wanted the opportunity to do it in Denver Public Schools. So the fact that the two came together was just perfect."

Of Denver South, he added: "I love South kids. It's one of the best schools in the state, in my opinion, so I'm super excited that I get to lead their football program."

Marini coached South's DPS Futures team to the championship on Saturday. When Kelsey told those kids, "They chased him down the field and tackled him and pig-piled him. They just love him."

Marini will succeed Tony Lindsay Jr. as South's football coach. Lindsay's teams were 78-33 in his 10 seasons, including an appearance in the 2012 Class 4A state championship game. Lindsay accepted the job at Far Northeast in early March.

Once the job was open, Kelsey hit the ground running.

"We had an extensive process," he said. "We had a lot of people apply for the job."

(Courtesy of Denver South HS)

But it was Marini who stood out.

"When it came down to it," Kelsey said, "the committee was just like, 'This guy's the right guy for the job.'

"The more I thought about it, I mean, I had to get my first chance to coach, which was at South," Kelsey added later. "Tony Lindsay's first chance to be a head coach was at South. (Boys basketball coach) Malik Fletcher's first chance to be a head coach was at South. At some point, it's somebody's first opportunity. You've got to have a chance."

Denver South won't be a rebuilding job under Marini, with talent throughout each level.

"I told Tony, 'It's not like you left me the keys to a Honda Civic; you left me the keys to a Mustang,'" Marini said.

Added Kelsey: "It's built already to win, we've got a ton of talent. He just has to take the reins."

Marini is a social studies teacher at the school, and one Kelsey sees as someone who "represents all that is right about education-based athletics." Marini was Mile High teacher of the year in 2008, and was named University of Chicago outstanding educator in 2015. He has been teaching in DPS for 15 years.

"We're excited about it, especially because it's someone who's kind of homegrown here," Kelsey said. "He's invested in South as an educator and coach and I'm pretty excited about it."

Follow all of this offseason's movement in our coaching changes tracker.