Duckworth named new MHS boys’ cage boss

Mark Duckworth enjoyed a lot of success as a Warren junior varsity boys’ basketball coach.

Last winter, he guided the Warrior JV squad to a 21-0 undefeated campaign, the first in Warren school history.

Now, Duckworth’s hoping that winning trend continues on the varsity level as the Marietta High boss.

At a Monday afternoon board office special meeting, Duckworth was officially approved as the new Tiger boys’ basketball mentor.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me, because I wasn’t expecting it,” said the 45-year-old Duckworth. “It’s a tough decision, because I’m leaving a very good (Warren) program.

“But ultimately, it’s the right thing for me to do, because I live in Marietta, and my kids go to school there.”

Duckworth is succeeding J.D. Secrest, who stepped down in March after seven winters at the MHS helm. Last season, the Tigers posted a 7-16 overall record and were 70-83 during Secrest’s tenure.

From the 2012-13 hoops team, Marietta had five seniors, who are expected to graduate this spring.

When Duckworth takes the Tiger reins, he’s expected to have the services of players like Corey Hill, Braden Riley, Adam Gearhart, Billy Weekly, Adam McKnight, and Jonathan Wood.

“Marietta plays in a very difficult league (East Central Ohio Leaue), and you’ve got to be ready to play, or you’ll get clipped.

“We will be disciplined and structured. Practices will be difficult and intense. Everyone will understand their role.”

Duckworth is a 1985 graduate of Marietta High and a life-long resident of the community.

As a student at MHS, he earned the honors of captain, MVP, all district, and special mention while a member of the basketball team, which was coached by Larry Burke.

After prep graduation, Duckworth attended Marietta College where he earned a degree in sports communication and played for the Phil Roach-coached Pioneers until a career-ending knee injury at Wooster.

In 1987, Duckworth began coaching basketball under Ed Paxton in Marietta, and compiled a record of 321-73 wins during a 22-year career, the last 14 at Warren. His record as the Warren JV coach during the last five winters was 96-5 record.

“I can’t say enough good things about (Warren) head coach Blane Maddox and the Warren people,” Duckworth said. “They treated me good, and it was a great place to coach.”

Recently, Duckworth was named the OHSAA assistant coach of the year for all divisions. This past winter, he was also an integral part of Warren’s impressive run and appearance in the Ohio Boys Division II Final Four of the OHSAA state basketball tournament.

Last year, Duckworth obtained his masters degree in athletic administration from Ohio University.

He and his wife Rebecca, who teaches nursing at WVU-P, have two children, Derek age 12 and Mark, age 10, both attending school in Marietta. When not coaching basketball, Duckworth is a softball enthusiast, who pitches and plays in a couple of leagues in the Marietta area.