Dunbar's Lawrence Smith Named 2021 Ravens High School Coach of the Year
Lawrence Smith, varsity head football coach of the Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.) Poets, has been named the 2021 Ravens High School Coach of the Year. Smith is the 24th recipient of the annual award, and the first-ever two-time winner.
Each week during the 2021 season, the Ravens honored a high school coach who made a significant impact on his student-athletes. On Jan. 2, each winner was in attendance for the Ravens-Rams game at M&T Bank Stadium for the selection of the Ravens High School Coach of the Year. In addition, each coach received a $2,000 donation to his school's football program and a commemorative framed award.
As the 2021 Ravens High School Coach of the Year, Smith received an additional $2,000 donation toward Dunbar's football program, and this week will attend the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas as the Baltimore Ravens nominee for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award.
Smith guided the Poets to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 2A-1A title this past season. It marked Dunbar's seventh championship under Smith's guidance, and the first since 2017.
"To coach at Dunbar means a lot to me since I'm an alum of the school," Smith stated. "When you look at the history of great coaches who have come before me here – Coach William 'Sugar' Cain, Coach Bob Wade, Coach Pete Pompey, Coach Stanley Mitchell, and my mentor, Coach Ben Eaton – the legacy they started is special, and it's important for us to honor them with what we do."
The 38-6 victory in the title game over the South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.) Cavaliers clinched an undefeated season for the Baltimore City school – a feat they last accomplished 14 years ago in Smith's inaugural season as head coach of the Poets.
"To describe this year's team in one word – it's 'brotherhood'," Smith explained. "They wanted to be one of the best teams to ever play at Dunbar. They bought into that starting all the way back with the virtual offseason program we held due to the pandemic. They set the bar high for themselves, and they did what they needed to do to reach it."
Notching five shutout victories and averaging over 47 points scored per game, the Poets were dominant on both offense and defense in 2021. Dunbar won 12 contests by 30-plus points.
"Offensively, we were dynamic with junior QB Devin Roche leading the attack," Smith said. "As explosive as we were with the ball, we were just as good defensively with our assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Michael Carter, who led a solid nucleus of guys that shut opponents down."
In addition to Smith's work on the football field, he also serves as a Baltimore City Public Schools Police Detective.
"I would like to thank my principal, Dr. Yetunde Reeves, my athletic director, Dana Johnson, and Baltimore City's interscholastic athletic coordinator, Tiffany Byrd, for their support of our program," Smith acknowledged. "When you have high school athletic teams that succeed, it all starts with the administration. We have a great principal who values athletics and does a great job making sure academics and athletics go together at Dunbar."
The Ravens High School Coach of the Year Award has been a fixture in youth athletics since 1997. Previous recipients include: Augie Waibel of Poly (1997), Nick Arminio of Eastern Technical (1998), Pete Pompey of Edmondson-Westside (1999), Dominic Damico of McDonogh (2000), Steve Turnbaugh of Hereford (2001), Dave Eubank of Dundalk (2002), Gene Brown of South Carroll (2003), Ben Eaton of Dunbar (2004), Brad Wilson of Westminster (2005), Dante Jones of Edmondson-Westside (2006), Lawrence Smith of Dunbar (2007), Tony Shermeyer of Century (2008), Rick Conner of Linganore (2009), Damon Bomar of Forest Park (2010), Roger Wrenn of Poly (2011), Reggie White of Milford Mill (2012), Elwood Townsend of Douglass (2013), Thomas Browne of Oakland Mills (2014), Sean Sandora of Dundalk (2015), Joe Polce of Walkersville (2016), Tim Palmer of Harford Tech (2017), Butch Schaffer of Glenelg (2018), Justin Payne of Parkville (2019) and Emanuel Glover of Reginald F. Lewis (2020).
2021 Ravens High School Coach of the Week Recipients:
South River High School
Calvert Hall College
Dunbar High School
Oakland Mills High School
Kent Island High School
Fallston High School
Dundalk High School
Frederick High School
North Harford High School
North County High School