Brian Lee used to feel that he belonged on the sideline at Walpole High.
It seemed like a fitting destination because that is where his father, John, cemented his legacy among the state’s most legendary coaches.
The elder Lee compiled a 212-33-7 record and won four MIAA Super Bowl championships (1976, 1981, 1989 and 1991) and 14 Bay State Conference titles while coaching Walpole from 1968 until 1992.
Brian, a member of Walpole’s ‘89 Super Bowl team, spent eight years at his alma mater as an assistant and five more at Curry College before he landed approximately 8 miles southwest of the Walpole campus at King Philip, a regional school that serves the towns of Wrentham, Norfolk, and Plainville.
“I tried to go to Walpole a couple times [as a head coach] but it didn’t work out,” said Lee, who will lead King Philip in the Division 2 Super Bowl against Marshfield Thursday (5:30 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium.
“I think everything happens for a reason. When I look back at it now, I think being at KP has made me extremely happy.”
The younger Lee has made his own legacy at King Philip. Thursday will mark his sixth Super Bowl appearance since his 2016 team hoisted the Division 1A title with a 21-18 victory over Reading in the program’s first state championship appearance.
The Warriors defended their crown with a 10-7 victory over Lincoln-Sudbury in the 2017 Division 2 Super Bowl, then made it back but fell short in 2018, 2021 and ‘22.
Although King Philip is now regarded as one of the Bay State’s perennial powers, the program’s annual success didn’t come overnight. Lee’s first two teams won three games apiece, followed by a 2-9 campaign in his third season.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the program turned a corner with a 9-2 mark. Since then, KP has posted winning seasons every year except for 2015 (5-6). Last Tuesday, Lee collected win No. 150 with a 35-0 victory over Thanksgiving rival Franklin at Fenway Park.
“When we first started to turn the corner and have some success, people were very appreciative of it and excited about it. [KP] was a fun place to be,” said Lee, who enters Thursday’s Super Bowl with a 150-61 record in 19 seasons.
“I’ve been able to think about [150 wins] and all of the kids that were a part of those games that we’ve been coaching. It doesn’t seem real that we’ve been doing it this long. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, and we’re just so lucky to have kids that dedicate themselves to the program.”
Lee is quick to shift the spotlight to his loyal assistants and the players they have coached. His former ‘89 Super Bowl teammate Matt Wassel has been KP’s defensive coordinator since ‘06, and Jay McGuire has coached the linemen since 2010. For years, John Hill and John Sarianides rotated offensive coordinator duties, though Anthony Vizakis has held the OC title the past two seasons.
“I’ve always been aware that there are plenty of better coaches than me,” said Lee. “The difference is I have a ton of help. Between the players and the assistant coaches, they set me up to look good.”
Lee’s sustained success has earned the respect of his peers.
“They play good football,” Franklin coach Eain Bain said. “Rarely do they turn the ball over — they don’t make many mistakes. They are disciplined and patient, they are good in the kicking game, very strong on defense, and they run the ball effectively.”
Bain noted that this year’s team is probably the deepest Lee has ever had.
“There’s not usually a weakness anyways,” he said, “but I think the quality top to bottom, there isn’t one area that you can look at and say you’re going to exploit it.”
As Lee looks to capture a third state title mere miles from Turco Field — where his father, who turned 90 this fall, experienced so much success — the KP coach agreed with Bain’s assessment about this year’s team.
“There are no real weak spots for us,” he said.