Steve Turnbaugh, who turned a downtrodden Hereford High football program into one of the area’s best, told Varsity Sports Network Friday evening that the 2013 season will be his last at the Baltimore County school.
“It’s time. I have no regrets,” said Turnbaugh, who’s been at Hereford since 1995. “We’ve done a lot.”
Turnbaugh, who’s 180-34 at Hereford, said he made the decision a few weeks ago. Later this month, Turnbaugh starts his 32nd school year as a physical education teacher in Baltimore County and is eligible for retirement.
Turnbaugh’s youngest child, Brock, will be a senior in the coming school year at Hereford where he will start at running back and linebacker in football. Also a standout wrestler and lacrosse goalie, Brock has given a verbal commitment to Johns Hopkins University for lacrosse.
“I’ve enjoyed coaching Brock in football and lacrosse,” said Turnbaugh, who’s been a longtime assistant on the boys‘ lacrosse squad that has won six consecutive Class 3A/2A state championships.
Under Turnbaugh, a 1978 Hereford grad, the football program has been the model of consistency. The Bulls have reached state playoffs 16 times, winning state championships in 1997 (Class 1A), 2001 and 2002 (both 2A). The Parkton school has also won 13 Baltimore County league titles and enjoyed a stretch of 46 consecutive victory against league foes between 1998 and 2003.
Last season, the Bulls went 7-4 and reached the Class 3A North Region semifinals after missing the postseason in 2011 (just the second time since Turnbaugh’s first season). Hereford has won 10 or more games 12 times under Turnbaugh and reached 11 state semifinals (tied for second-most among area schools).
“Hereford’s responsible for raising the level of competition in Baltimore County,” said Turnbaugh, whose team was state runner-up in 2004 (lost to Potomac in 2A finals) and 2007 (lost to Damascus in 3A finals).
His three state championships are the most by a Baltimore County coach and is one of three active area coaches with three or more titles. The other two are Dunbar’s Lawrence Smith (five) and Brian Van Deusen of River Hill (four).
The Bulls were an afterthought in Baltimore County football in the mid-1980s, struggling to field a team. From 1987 to 1994, Hereford won 24 games.
Turnbaugh, who served as an assistant at Franklin, Owings Mills and Towson after graduating from James Madison University, got the opportunity to lead his alma-mater in 1995. In his second season in 1996, Turnbaugh and Hereford emerged as a force on the area gridiron scene, winning the Baltimore County 1A/2A league title and reached the Class 1A state semifinals (lost to Kent).
Behind its wing-T offense and superior play on the interior, Hereford went 12-0 the following year and captured the 1A state crown. The Bulls established state records in points scored (602), rushing yards (5,415) and touchdowns scored (87).
“When I played, Hereford was chalked up as an easy win,” said Milford Mill coach Reggie White, the second-longest tenured coach in Baltimore County (starting 11th season at his alma-mater) behind Turnbaugh. “He turned the whole mindset of the school and the program around. His quarterbacks are always tough, the backs in the wing-t are tough and the lines are disciplined.”
The Bulls reached the state semifinals the next three seasons, losing in 1999 and 2000 (both in Class 2A) to Frederick County’s Urbana, which claimed an unprecedented four consecutive state titles and won a state-record 50 straight games. Hereford went on a 28-game run, with back-to-back 13-0 campaigns and Class 2A crowns in 2001 (first team in state to score 500 points in 10-game regular season) and 2002 (set state record with 5,878 rushing yards).
Norman Anderson and Joshua Snyder, two members of the 2001 squad, joined the Marines after graduating from Hereford. They died in combat six weeks apart in 2005.
The 2001 team picture with Anderson and Snyder hangs inside the Bulls’ weight room. While building Hereford into one of the state’s most-respected programs, Turnbaugh has been a psuedo-father figure to all his players.
“I get close to these kids, especially when you coach them for four years,” Turnbaugh said in 2005 after Anderson’s death was announced by the Department of Defense. “They’re like my own kids and there is no comfort in losing a child.”
Turnbaugh said he’s intrigued with the prospects of watching Brock play in college as well as spending time with wife Becky, three daughters and one-year old granddaughter. He’s looking forward to the start of 2013 practice with 12 starters back from last season.
“We’ve accomplished things here in 19 years that no one believed could be done,” said Turnbaugh, who has two former players Andrew DePaola (Tampa Bay) and Adam Yates (Jacksonville) currently on NFL rosters. “I still love to coach, but it’s time to take a step back.”