Mike Dublin taking over Amherst football after Chris Ehorn steps aside

  • Members of the Amherst Regional football team run the second of two circuits on a snow-free path across Community Field during a Hurricanes practice on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. FILE PHOTO

  • Mike Dublin will take over the Amherst Regional football program this fall. He coached at Minnechaug this spring and spent the previous three years at Putnam. CONTRIBUTED/MIKE DUBLIN

Staff Writer
Monday, July 26, 2021

Mike Dublin’s coaching career progressed earlier than he planned. It started his senior year at Springfield College after a knee injury ended his junior season when he took what he called a sub-graduate assistant position with the Pride.

He then spent three years as Putnam’s defensive coordinator and one as Minnechaug’s before being named the head coach at Amherst Regional last month.

“It wasn’t something I expected,” Dublin said.

First off, he didn’t expect the Amherst coaching job to open up. Chris Ehorn led the Hurricanes to the Division 5 state Super Bowl in 2019 – winning the school’s first Western Massachusetts title in 20 years. He led the Hurricanes to three straight postseason appearances after being hired in 2016. But Ehorn needed to step aside and focus on education. He will attend graduate school at Rutgers for global sports business in the fall after receiving his bachelor’s degree  in organizational development and team building from UMass this spring.

He waited until the end of this year’s Fall II season to make the decision despite going through the application process during the spring.

“This was the best for (my and my family’s) future long term even though it was going to be a very tough decision,” Ehorn said. “It’s the friendships and relationships I built with the players over the years, the community members, are so important to me. After that is the fun and success we had.”

Ehorn is still in contact with the current players and has helped at 7-on-7 camps, doing as much as he can and Dublin is comfortable with to help the transition.

“He’s phenomenal, really caring about the kids,” Amherst athletic director Victoria Stewart said. “Everything he did was for the kids. That was no questions asked.”

Ehorn even had a hand in selecting his successor. He spoke with Dublin at an indoor track meet – Dublin was there as the Putnam head coach – and they exchanged philosophies about how successful football programs are built and maintained. That conversation stuck with Ehorn, and he told Dublin he should apply once he resigned in Amherst.

“I remember meeting him and thinking, ‘this guy should be a head coach,’” Ehorn said.

Dublin was selected by a committee that included input from Stewart, parents and student-athletes.

“He knows a lot about the game,” Stewart said. “He brought a lot of things to the table that the committee was impressed with.”

Dublin previously applied to be the Putnam head coach and wasn’t selected, so this will be his first football head coaching opportunity in the fall. Most of Dublin’s background is on defense. He played linebacker and tight end at Porstmouth High School in Rhode Island and was a linebacker for Springfield College. But his time as a defensive coordinator gave him an appreciation for offenses, as well.

“One thing about being the defensive coordinators, you tend to study offenses. It’s more of a muse type of thing,” Dublin said. “We researched different offenses and seeing what you could do against it.”

But coaching high school football for as long as he has, Dublin also stepped in and dabbled with lineman, quarterbacks and most other position groups. That kind of versatility will only help him once the Hurricanes begin practice this fall.

Some of Dublin’s big “things,” as he called it, are clear and concise expectations.

“Student athletes should know what you’re expecting them to do. I’ve been in a situation where things weren’t clear, and it showed in our record, attendance and performance in practice,” Dublin said. “Challenging kids is important. I don’t want to donating that’s easy . Things worth doing are challenging. I feel like if you’re not growing, you’re doing something wrong.”

He’s met with next years seniors already and stressed the importance of communication with them. Dublin is new to the school and community. He wants to hear their thoughts about the team and where they think they are and can get to.

“I’m still learning, so I need their input,” Dublin said. “The players are shaping their team. I want to push the athletes above what they think is possible.”