Bayhawks’ Darryl Hunter named BTC Coach of the Week
by Gary Adornato
When Darryl Hunter, a one time football standout at Baltimore Polytechnic, took over the head coaching job of the varsity football team at Chesapeake-Baltimore County, he understood how much work needed to be done with a program that was 1-9 a year before. Not even three years the Bayhawks are 8-1 and they clinched the Baltimore County Division II title on Saturday with their 14-8 win at Western Tech.
The win and turnaround have brought new recognition to Chesapeake and Hunter, who is this week’s Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week.
“Before becoming the varsity head in 2015, I knew that the program would need a major overhaul in its philosophy,” said Hunter, who had spent the previous three year’s as the Bayhawks JV head coach. “Drastic changes and sacrifices had to be made if we were to be successful. I took over a team that unfortunately was OK with mediocrity, a lack of mental toughness and discipline.”
During his first season, Hunter elected to leave his best sophomore players on the junior varsity, which had a 30-man roster while playing the varsity schedule with only 14 players.
“I made this decision because I knew that the JV players already shared my beliefs and I didn’t want them tainted by a heavily senior varsity team that felt indifferent,” said Hunter, who also coaches girls varsity basketball and softball at Chesapeake. “The program as a whole got better. The JV went 9-0 and varsity increased to 2-8. Even though varsity went 5-5 last year, we felt that we were better than that because we had lost a couple of games inside the last 90 seconds.
Last season, Hunter added assistant coach Ronald “Heavy” Barton, who serves as the team’s offensive coordinator and, this year, defensive coordinator Johnny Stith. The pair have helped rraise the level of expectation in our program.
“Our motto is Expectations – Execution – No Excuses,” said Hunter. “As a coaching staff, we display what it means to be mentally tough on a daily bases. We display what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like and how it’s used in every aspect of life. We’re not perfect by any means and we still have a long way to go, but we are chipping away at changing our culture day by day – play by play.”
Barton, who Hunter calls the program’s “tactician” has a wealth of coaching experience, including stints at Overlea and St. Frances and years on the Pop Warner Recreation level. “He is the brains of the program,” added Hunter. “We will enjoy him for as long as we can because I am certain Coach Heavy will be a head coach very soon.”
Stith, who previously coached at Digital Harbor, not only coaches the Bayhawks’ defense but he serves as the team’s disciplinarian, chief motivator and the strength and conditioning coach. “When all else fails, he is our will to win and our will to do the right thing.”
Long term, Hunter hopes to complete change the program’s culture and get total buy-in on his philosophy of Expectations – Execution – No Excuses.
“I want this to be a living, breathing, conscious environment. I want every student athlete to be mentally tough and able to critically think. I want Chesapeake to consistently compete at a high level and have coaches with longevity.
“We’re all alpha males. Sometimes the field isn’t big enough for all of our ideas, but we have spirited discussions with the end result being a plan of action. Being competent, dependable, knowledgeable coaches have been their greatest role in helping to turn around our program. I’m the glue that holds it all together.”
Hunter was humbled when he learned of the honor, but it is a sign that he has his team on the right course.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by my peers as the Coach of the Week,” he said. “I don’t coach for accolades, I coach because I love kids and I want to give them the best life experiences I can.”
Here also expressed his gratitude to the Baltimore Touchdown Club.
“The BTC is so important in our area for football athletes. I have seen first hand with my own eyes how the BTC has given exposure to Chesapeake kids that has led to scholarships just from their exposure. I see the club working its magic every year for surrounding area schools. I’m proud that we are a member of the BTC.”