New Howard head coach starts out with a big win over rival Glenelg


by Gary Adornato

The 2017 high school football season is officially underway in Maryland and with the first week in the books, it is time to honor our first Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week. That honor goes to new Howard head coach Ross Hannon, who guided his 8th-ranked Howard Lions to a 34-0 season-opening rout of Howard County rival Glenelg, which came in at No. 16 in the VSN Football Preseason Top 20.

Not only was it a big deal for Hannon to win his first game with the Lions, against a rival and Top 20 team, but it allowed Howard to avenge last year’s loss to the Gladiators which ended the Lions 32-game win streak in the County. In addition, Howard regained the Elgard Trophy for which the two teams battle each year.

“New beginnings are always exciting,” said Hannon. “We had a great off-season and a great camp. When great kids bring great effort and enthusiasm, you can’t help but be excited.”

Contrary to what may have been on the minds of Howard’s fans, Hannon said his staff treated the contest like they would treat any other game.

“I know our staff was ready and we don’t put any extra emphasis on specific opponents. We respect every team that lines up across from us, and we respect the game. I know that our community and players were excited to open up at The Lions’ Den against our oldest rival, and we are proud to have the Elgard Trophy back on Old Annapolis Road.”

In his second year on the Howard staff, Hannon, a coaching veteran with head coaching stops at Centennial and Mount Hebron, as well as two years as an Offensive Coordinator at Wilde Lake, talked about the transition to leading the program.

“The biggest difference was changing hats from position coach to head coach,” said Hannon, who replaced Bruce Strunk who led the Lions to County supremacy and a 73-29 record in nine seasons. “Obviously, the role of head coach calls for a different set of responsibilities, but the main goal of any coach – regardless of title – is building and maintaining relationships.

“I was fortunate to have working relationships with several members of the staff before I ever stepped foot on the Howard turf; getting to coach a year with those men made the transition that much more fluid. We respect one another as people first and coaches second. We all understand and appreciate what the game of football has given us, and we want to give it back every time we can. It goes without saying, we are incredibly blessed to work with an amazing group of young men at both the JV and Varsity levels.”

Hannon kept Strunk’s largely intact and he explained why.

“My first responsibility is to build good young men. I think our staff sets a great example on and off the field of how to be a responsible, hard-working, caring, empathetic and conscientious person.

“Coach Tony Reid does a great job preparing our offense from week-to-week and does a remarkable job of making adjustments. Special Teams Coordinator Geoff Ciniero is incredibly advanced and multiple with scheming, and he really does a great job developing kickers and punters. New defensive coordinator Bruce Cummings does a tremendous job matching coverages with fronts and breaking down our opponents’ tendencies. The glue that holds us all together, now working under his third head coach at Howard, is Greg Prestel. We keep him busy between coaching the offensive line and coordinating our video. A new addition and upgrade at quarterbacks’ coach is former University of Maryland quarterback Ricky Schultz. There has been significant and noticeable improvement in all three of our quarterbacks in a very short period of time.”

Hannon gives all the credit for his BTC honor to his players, coaches and team supporters.

“This honor belongs to the 63 young men in the locker room; our staff who works tirelessly day in and day out; our Howard community; the best student body (The Lions’ Den) in the state; and the Howard High School Administration, especially Prinicipal Nick Novak and AAM Michael Duffy.”

Finally, Hannon thanked the BTC for the honor and its support of high school football.

“The BTC provides continual support and exposure for the entire State, both public and private school programs,” added Hannon. “They provide equitable exposure for all of the young men who make a commitment to something bigger than themselves. Thanks to the BTC for all you do for us.”