Damascus football tries to maintain its winning tradition in a whole new world

Damascus hired Klotz three weeks before the coronavirus pandemic began in the United States last year. He planned how he would spend each week before the fall season and envisioned the joy of winning. Still, he was only able to teach his players a new scheme through video chats.

The story continues under the advertisement

Despite changes in the Damascus program last year, the challenges associated with the pandemic and a humiliating loss over the past week, the Swarmin ‘Hornets showed on Friday that their winning tradition can continue.

“There was a lot of doubt about the coaches across the city,” said Damascus defender Dominic Hess. “But I trusted them and believed in them, and I knew they could do it. It’s really good if they come out of here and coach us to win and… I think we’ll be really good with them. “

About half an hour before Friday’s game, Damascus’ announcer reminded the handful of fans in the stands that Damascus was still the defending champions of Maryland 3A.

The story continues under the advertisement

Two of the best recruits in Damascus history, defenseman Bryan Bresee and center Ryan Linthicum, led the team during this state championship season. Both are with Clemson now. Last week, Damascus had played a game for the first time since that title in 2019 after Montgomery County allowed a shortened spring season.

When Richard Montgomery hired Klotz last year, he planned to compete for state championships from the fall. Even before he was hired, he made weekly to-do lists in a spreadsheet in hopes of building relationships with Damascus Youth Program, the Damascus Sports Federation, and doing community service in the city.

The story continues under the advertisement

Pressure to take over a power plant in Maryland was on Klotz, and he wanted to be prepared. Damascus ’11 state championships – including four in the last five seasons – have ranked behind Seneca Valley for most in state history. It took Klotz three seasons to turn Richard Montgomery into one of the top teams in the county, but he’s not patient enough to succeed in Damascus.

“I applied for the job because I wanted to be in a place that loves football,” said Klotz, a 42-year-old English teacher in Damascus. “In a place that loves football, there is pressure, especially from the success they have had. It’s great to be in a place that cares so much about where those expectations are. “

Klotz started training in Damascus in February 2020, bringing pizza and gatorade into the school’s small auditorium and learning as much as possible about his players’ personalities and families. He understood Damascus’ traditions, such as the wooden board players clapping before the games: “Every player, every game,” a quote brought to Damascus by legendary high school coach Al Thomas in the late 1980s.

The story continues under the advertisement

A few days before Klotz was ready to announce his plans, the pandemic closed personal school and training. For the next 11 months, Klotz shared videos and diagrams of the no-huddle offense and the hand signals he wanted to use.

The team did two weeks of contact training before opening their season against Sherwood last week and the lack of preparation showed. The Swarmin ‘Hornets, who have dominated Sherwood for the past few years, lost 31 points to the Warriors. Many players who were used to winning cried. Klotz heard a whisper about the disappointment of the fans in Damascus, a football-mad city.

“We know that now, just because we show up with a uniform that says ‘Damascus’ on the front,” said Klotz, “that doesn’t mean we’ll win.”

The story continues under the advertisement

Damascus’ players got a better grip on Klotz’s system this week, but faced another challenge in the northwest, Maryland 4A’s runner-up in 2019. Klotz felt relieved in the second quarter when his offensive clashed for the first time passed and Cagen Keir ran back for a 30-yard touchdown. About 10 minutes later, Klotz said he injured himself on his left slant when picking up Hess after the second child returned an interception for a touchdown.

At halftime, when his team was leading by 14 points, Klotz shared with his players that he had waited weeks to say so with confidence.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Klotz in a corner of the stadium. “This is Damascus football.”

The story continues under the advertisement

The Swarmin ‘Hornets held on and Klotz hugged his assistant coaches for the first time after winning. He said his team had more to understand about his system. He plans to share his game book with the Damascus Sports Federation so that players get used to it going to high school.

Friday was the last game of the season in Montgomery County, and Klotz left his players with his vision as they headed into a brief off-season.

“I can’t wait to be in this end zone many, many times over the next 20 years [freaking] Years, ”explained Klotz.