Joe McNichol, a popular longtime football coach at several local high schools, died of lung cancer at home in Lafayette Hill on Saturday. He was 77.
An offensive coordinator who coached his son, Joseph P. McNichol III, at La Salle High School, Mr. McNichol was the head coach at Archbishop Carroll from 1969-76, Atlantic City from 1977-78 and Bishop Kenrick from 1986-87.
"Up until the very end, football was my dad's complete passion," Joe McNichol III said Tuesday. "He would watch games from home and break down defensive schemes all the time."
Mr. McNichol was 48-37-2, with two Philadelphia city championships, in eight seasons as head coach at Archbishop Carroll. He was 4-15 at Kenrick and 8-10 at Atlantic City.
"Dad was my best friend," said Joe McNichol III, a resident of Lafayette Hill. "Growing up, whether it was football or baseball, I could always look over and see him at the game.
"He made sure to set up his schedule and time around family events. He was great when it came to that."
Mr. McNichol graduated from La Salle High School and was a member of the 1957 city championship football team. He graduated from Villanova University in 1963 and began teaching at Cardinal Dougherty. He became the freshman football coach at Bishop McDevitt in 1964 and joined head coach John Quinn as the offensive coordinator at Archbishop Ryan in 1966.
Carroll opened in 1967, and Mr. McNichol was hired as both the head football coach and athletic director. He was known by many as the "father of Archbishop Carroll football."
Under Mr. McNichol, the Patriots won Philadelphia city championships in 1971 and 1976. Among the star players he coached were Bill Zwaan, the current head coach at West Chester University, and Kevin Clancy, the head coach at Strath Haven High.
In 2001, Clancy was asked which coach affected him the most. He response was Joe McNichol.
"I knew him as a great teacher of the game and about life and as a motivator," Clancy said then. "And then I was very fortunate that he hired me back to come coach with him. I spent several years coaching under him right after I got out of college.
"I learned a lot more about how to be a teacher and how to work with young people from him. I always think back on the things I learned from Joe McNichol."
In 1977, Mr. McNichol relocated to Ventnor and coached the Atlantic City High School football team. He returned to Philadelphia in 1979 and worked in business for a time.
Mr. McNichol became the coach at Bishop Kenrick for the 1986-87 seasons. In 1988, he was hired as the offensive coordinator at La Salle, and the Explorers won the city championship in 1989. He retired from coaching in 1991.
Mr. McNichol returned to Carroll as director of maintenance in 2014 until he fell ill.
He is a member of the Archbishop Carroll High School Hall of Fame and the La Salle College High School Hall of Fame.
In addition to his son, Mr. McNichol is survived by a daughter, Shannon Grebe, and several brothers, sisters, grandsons and granddaughters.
Visitation is scheduled at St. Philip Neri Church, 437 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, on Sunday from 5-7 p.m. and Monday from 10-11 a.m. A mass at 11 a.m. is set for Monday.