Which high school football coach has received “Coach of the Year” Awards in successive seasons at two different schools?
That would be Revere’s own Paul Sobolewski who accomplished that rare (if not unprecedented) feat at Cathedral High School (Boston) and Pope John XXIII High School (Everett). He led Cathedral to the Division 8 Eastern Mass. finals in 2017 and Pope John to the Division 8 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium in 2018. Pope John XXIII High School closed its doors in 2019.
After one year being away from the coaching sidelines, Paul Sobolewski, 50, is returning to high school football as the new head coach at Lowell Catholic High School this fall.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m thankful to AD Jack Fletcher,” said Sobolewski. “I seem to have some success at small schools and try to get as many players out for football as we can. I like the small-school atmosphere where you get to know all the kids and you get to encourage them to play multiple sports. I always tell my players that football might not be your favorite sport, but it could propel you to get a scholarship.”
At Lowell Catholic Paul will reunite with his brother, Bob, 54, a Pope John Hall of Fame inductee, who will be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His former Pope John captain Carlos Alonso will be the wide receivers and defensive back coach. He is currently interviewing other assistant coaching candidates.
Lowell Catholic is moving from the Catholic Central Small to the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Large.
“It’s a huge jump, a big task ahead of us,” said Paul. “You’re going from playing schools with 25-30 players to 60-80 players, so it’s a big jump. Travel wise, it just made sense for Lowell Catholic to be in the Commonwealth Conference.”
Greater Lowell, Greater Lawrence, Shawsheen, Whittier are close geographically to Lowell Catholic. “I think our farthest road trip in our league will be to Northeast Regional (Wakefield),” related Paul.
Revere roots in school and Pop Warner football
Paul is the son of the late Revere Police Lt. Robert Sobolewski and the late Patricia Sobolewski. His beloved mother, who was so supportive of her children’s pursuits in school and in life, passed away in 2018 just prior to Paul and his brother, Bob, an assistant coach, beginning their Super Bowl season at Pope John.
Paul grew up on Tuscano Avenue before the Sobolewski family built a new home on Cecilian Avenue.
Paul attended the Whelan Elementary and the Lincoln School for seventh and eighth grade.
He began his football career in the Revere Junior Patriots Pop Warner organization where he played four seasons of football.
He was a four-year varsity player at Pope John and a standout on the 1987 Catholic Central League championship team. He went on to play two seasons of football at Merrimack. His brother, Bob, was a star quarterback at Stonehill College.
Paul became an officer in the Revere Police Department (1994-2003) and received a degree in Criminal Justice from Western New England College.
Coaching career began in Revere
In addition to being the head coach at Pope John and Cathedral, Paul had head coaching positions at Winchester and Georgetown. He also served as athletic director at Pope John in the 2018-19 school year. His career coaching record is 88-71.
Sobolewski took his first coaching position as an assistant on Revere High football coach Mike Cella’s staff. The late Silvio Cella was the director of athletics at that time. He coached three seasons with Mike Cella and one season with Mike Cassano.
“I was lucky. I was in the right place in the right time in 1996,” said Paul about his beginnings. “I responded to a call as a community police officer in Revere and had the pleasure to meet Coach Cella. We started talking about football and he had remembered my brother and me from our days in Pop Warner. He gave us our first shot at coaching and we certainly learned a lot from Coach Cella, such as the right way to treat kids – Mike’s a great guy. And his father, Mr. [Silvio] Cella, was our athletic director before he retired.”
Now 15 years into his head coaching career, Paul said he’s proud that several of his former high school players have gone on to play college football and have successful careers in all fields. Paul has also coached in the Shriners and Agganis All-Star Games.
“I’ve been blessed to have sent a lot of kids on to play college football,” said Paul. “One of my former players (Joey Cleary of Winchester) is working in the Baltimore Ravens organization.”
Now Paul Sobolewski has his sights on leading Lowell Catholic to glory – and perhaps earning a third “Coach of the Year” Award in the process. He also aspires to join the faculty in a position at Lowell Catholic.