When Bruce Scifres was hired as Roncalli’s football coach in 1990, he couldn’t have imagined he’d spend the next 27 years in that role. And near the end of his nearly three decades at the school, he couldn’t imagine he’d ever leave.
But Scifres, 60, is leaving. The seven-time state championship coach resigned on Monday and will take over this summer as the executive director of the Catholic Youth Organization in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
“The time I’ve been at Roncalli has been a true blessing,” Scifres told IndyStar. “I’ve worked with amazing young people from great families. I’m a better man because of the time I’ve spent there. My faith is stronger as a result of me being there for 27 years. For a long time, I envisioned myself finishing my career there. It’s been a calling. But now I’m moving on to another calling and an even bigger team.”
Scifres led Roncalli to seven state championships to tie for fifth-most in Indiana high school football history. The Rebels were 15-0 last season, defeating NorthWood 34-22 to win the Class 4A state championship. Roncalli also won state championships under Scifres in 1993, ’94, ’99, 2002, ’03 and ’04.
Scifres’ record at Roncalli was 248-88 to rank 24th on the all-time win list in the state. He is one of nine coaches in state history to win three consecutive titles.
“As the parent of two former players in the football program, and as the principal, I frequently would tell Bruce that we could not have had a better person leading our football program,” Roncalli principal Chuck Weisenbach said. “No football coach in the state of Indiana has done a better job in leading young men and being instrumental in their development of life skills. His impact on the program and our school will be sorely missed.”
Scifres will replace Ed Tinder, who announced his retirement after serving as executive director of CYO for more than 30 years. Scifres said he attended a sports ministry conference last year where he was asked to write a two-sentence personal mission statement. His thoughts aligned with the opening at CYO.
“The more I thought and prayed about it, I felt in my heart like I was being spoken to,” Scifres said. “The answer seemed to be very clear. CYO serves right at 24,000 young people and involved about 7,000 volunteers. As I reflected on my personal mission statement, I felt like this would be a chance to have a profound influence on young people.”
Scifres, a graduate of Plainfield High School and Butler, started out as a graduate assistant at Butler in the fall of 1979. He was hired at Roncalli as the head track coach and assistant football coach in 1980. He left Roncalli for an assistant coaching position at Lawrence Central in 1983 and stayed for six years — with one year at Brownstown Central in between — before he was hired at Roncalli in 1990.
Scifres said he hopes Roncalli will look to hire from within the program.
“(To stay 27 years) is a testament in my mind to how special the school is and how awesome the kids and families are,” he said. “I’ve had incredible colleagues. It’s been a great place to teach and coach.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.