John Mohrmann can’t explain it. Was it written in the stars? Was it fate? Was it luck? Morhmann just wrapped up his 20th season as coach of the Priory soccer team. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Mohrmann guided the Rebels to their second Class 2 state championship. They finished 27-0. It’s the second time a boys soccer team has gone unbeaten and untied in the state of Missouri. The first time was in 2005, when Priory went 26-0. “It is hard to believe,” Morhmann, 50, says. “It’s pretty amazing it’s happened twice.”
Boys’ soccer has been recognized by the Missouri State High School Activities Association as an accredited sport for 43 years. No one, save Priory, has survived unscathed. Not Mike Villa’s juggernaut Vianney teams of the early ’80s or Vince Drake’s St. Thomas Aquinas dynasty of the early ’90s. Those kinds of things just don’t happen in soccer. For Priory to go unbeaten and untied not once, but twice, is jaw-dropping.
Then again, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s the byproduct of a coach whose own work ethic and love for the game filters down to his players.
Morhmann was a midfielder at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and helped the team to a share of the 1977 state title when it tied Bishop DuBourg. After three overtime periods, the game ended 2-2. Mohrmann and Aquinas would return to the title game the next year and lose 2-1 in overtime to Vianney. It was the first of seven state championships the Golden Griffins would win under Villa.
Mohrmann’s play and great grades caught Princeton’s eye. He would suit up four years for the Tigers. He majored in religion and minored in English. He graduated in 1983 with a teaching certificate, something that didn’t come easily. “Until I became a parent, student teaching was the hardest thing I did in my life,” Morhmann says. He came back to St. Louis after graduation and was uncertain of where he was headed. As the summer began to come to an end he heard about a job opening at Rosary High School. “I tried it and haven’t looked back,” he says.
He dabbled in coaching his first year at Rosary, helping out when he could. He was named the coach before his second year and given the keys to one of the best teams in the state. “That might have been the best team I’ve ever coached,” he says. “I think we had 10 guys that went on and played Division I.”
Back then, the state would seed the state tournament and Rosary was No. 1. But it would be knocked off in the quarterfinals by De Smet. Mohrmann would coach at Rosary for four more years before moving to Prep Seminary where he would coach for three years. He taught one year at Cor Jesu before finally landing at Priory in 1991.
Mohrmann’s passion for the game remains as intense as ever. He still plays as often as he can in men’s leagues around town. He says he’ll play a couple of times a week during the winter and even more during the summer. Morhmann says that getting lost in a soccer match allows him to put aside all the deadlines and pressures of the day. It’s his release.
Mohrmann spends his days teaching English at Priory. He’s particularly tickled that he’ll be breaking out his copy of Hamlet and going over the Bard’s revenge tragedy before too long. He sees many similarities between teaching and coaching. It’s why he’s still doing both after so many years. “The thing I still get a charge out of is trying to reach kids and help them learn,” he says. “It takes a lot to write a good paper. It takes a lot to be a better player.”