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Ravens Name 2016 High School Coach of the Year

Joe Polce, varsity head coach of the Walkersville Lions football team, has been named the 2016 Ravens High School Coach of the Year. Polce is the 20th recipient of the annual award.

Finishing with a perfect 14-0 record this year, Polce led the Lions to their first undefeated season in school history. Walkersville returned to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) Class 2A state championship game for the second-consecutive season, where the seventh-year head coach helped secure his alma mater's first state title in 29 years with a 33-6 victory over the Elkton Golden Elks.

"A lot of these kids on the team this year were also on the team that lost in the championship game in 2015," Polce explained. "That motivation of losing after being so close last year really pushed the kids in the offseason and during the entire season. They were driven and focused to not just get back to the title game, but to win it this year."

All season long, Walkersville demonstrated a blue-collar attitude that showcased itself in an offense that rushed for over 3,000 yards and a defense that allowed a stingy 51 points (3.6 points per game) throughout the entire 2016 campaign. Having never surrendered more than eight points in any contest, the Lions claimed the No. 1 seed in the MPSSAA 2A West region heading into the state playoffs.

After advancing to the championship game following victories over Century (48-7), Middletown (20-7) and Dunbar (12-7), Walkersville sought redemption in the title game after falling short in 2015 to the Patuxent (Lusby, Md.) Panthers, 21-20. With the 2016 title game tied 6-6 at halftime, the Lions rattled off 27 unanswered second-half points to secure the championship victory over Elkton, 33-6.

"This group of kids means everything to me," Polce stated. "I've been coaching most of them since 2009 [as a youth football coach in the Glade Valley Athletic Association]. We've spent a lot of time together on and off the field, and we all have a great relationship. These boys mean the world to me."

Each week during the season, the Ravens honored a high school coach who has made a significant impact on his student-athletes. Each winner was in attendance for the Ravens-Eagles game at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 18 for the naming 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 an award from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

As the 2016 Ravens High School Coach of the Year, Polce received an additional $2,000 donation toward Walkersville's football program.

"I'd like to thank the Baltimore Ravens for all they do to support not just Walkersville High School, but high school football throughout the state," Polce mentioned. "The recognition, financial contributions and assistance they provide is fantastic."

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) and Sean Sandora of Dundalk (2015).

2016 Ravens High School Coach of the Week Recipients:

Week 1

Carlos Dunmoodie

Centennial High School

Week 2

Matt Miller

Winters Mill High School

Week 3

Ray Wright

Randallstown High School

Week 4

Justin Payne

Parkville High School

Week 5

Kyle Schmitt

Archbishop Spalding High School

Week 6

Anthony Burgos

Franklin High School

Week 7

Daryl Wade

Baltimore City College

Week 8

Steve Lurz

Patterson Mill High School

Week 9

Chad McCormick

Old Mill High School

Week 10

Joe Polce

Walkersville High School

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