The coaches of the Howard (Ellicott City, Md.) varsity football team have been collectively awarded Ravens High School Coach of the Week honors for the third week of the 2010 NFL season.
The Lions defeated county rival Atholton (Columbia, Md.) 32-28 on Friday (9/24) and advanced to 3-1 after scoring 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Howard head coach Bruce Strunk wasn't there to witness it.
While at practice last Tuesday, Strunk admitted to experiencing pain in his midsection. Early Wednesday morning, he underwent emergency gall bladder surgery, keeping him off the field and away from his team for the remainder of the week.
But Strunk remained confident in his players and coaches because of the philosophy he continuously stresses.
"I always preach that if a player goes down, another steps up," Strunk said. "The same goes with the coaches, and they got the job done."
Defensive coordinator Doug Kaplan assumed the administrative role in Strunk's absence and manned the defensive play-calling, while offensive coordinator Tony Reid managed the calls on offense. Kaplan admitted that even though Strunk couldn't physically be with his team, his presence was still apparent.
"He has a very clear philosophy, and everything was built off of that when he had to step away," Kaplan stated. "The players just pick each other up. They play for the right reasons – for the love of the game and for each other."
And after Friday's win, it was clear that the Howard players had also played for their head coach. The team sent Strunk the game ball Saturday with every student-athlete's signature on it.
"He means a lot to the kids," Kaplan affirmed.
Down by nine points in the fourth quarter, the Lions rallied back by scoring two unanswered touchdowns. The go-ahead score was a 1-yard touchdown run with under a minute to go by RB Brady Curley – a JV player who was brought up to the varsity squad after injuries plagued the three backs ahead of him.
"I was very proud of our kids," said Strunk, who plans to return by midweek, "Behind every successful coach is a great group of players and coaches."
Each week during the season, the Ravens honor a high school coach who has made a significant impact on his athletes. Each winner will be present at the Ravens vs. Saints home game on Dec. 19 for the naming of the Ravens' High School Coach of the Year.
Each weekly recipient receives:
A $2,000 donation to the school's football program
An award certificate signed by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh
A specially-designed Coach of the Week hat
2010 Ravens HS Coach of the Week Recipients:
Week 1 Steve Turnbaugh Hereford
Week 2 Biff Poggi Gilman
Week 3 Howard Coaching Staff Howard