Herb Conley, one of those faces on the wall to which Marsh will be forever indebted, gave him a chance to coach in the Ashland system. He was there for three years from 1974 to 1976 where he also scouted with Putnam coach John Tuttle and Bill Burch for the Tomcats.
“Bill Burch was a master of scouting,” Marsh said. “He taught us to look for little things. Scouting on those Friday nights was an education. That and those Sunday (coaches) meetings watching Herb and Mike (Holtzapfel) and Bill Tom (Ross) prepare. That’s where I learned it all. You don’t pick that stuff up reading a book.”
Marsh was elevated to the varsity staff after Conley left coaching to enter administration. Holtzapfel took over and the results were not good with seasons of 3-7, 3-7 and 1-9.
“At the end of the 1-9 year, it was suggested that we resign,” Marsh said. “I wanted to apply for the (head coaching) job but I was told I was too young.”
Mike Manley, who happened to be a year younger than Marsh, was hired as the new coach. Marsh had been in charge of the winter weight program and Manley made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“He comes in and asks me to coach,” Marsh said. “I said, ‘They don’t want me.’ His words were: ‘Don McReynolds and I will run the offense. The defense is all yours.’ I couldn’t pass it up.”
Manley, who Marsh called “an offensive genius,” brought McReynolds with him to Ashland. However, Manley stayed only one season, going 9-3, but was offered a coaching job at Morehead State. He didn’t leave until late May and Marsh, almost by default, would become the next Tomcat head coach. McReynolds and Randy Heaberlin stayed with Marsh as assistant coaches and he brought on Mark Renfroe, a former Boyd County star and University of Kentucky lineman. It turned out to be an outstanding staff that had the Tomcats playing at a high level every Friday.