Eagle alum and long-time assistant has his team off to a 6-0 start in 2019
by Gary Adornato
The McDonogh football team began the 2019 season as a bit of a mystery.
Most area pundits knew the Eagles had talent, but many wondered if the team truly matched up well with their top rivals in the MIAA A Conference. Now, after a 6-0 start and an impressive 28-8 rout of Calvert Hall, last Friday, those doubts linger no longer.
In fact, the Eagles have proved to be a matchup nightmare for opponents as they are averaging 37 points per game and have allowed a league-low 9.7 points per game.
The impressive start, especially the performance against Calvert Hall, has earned McDonogh coach Hakeem Sule the honor as this week’s Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week.
Sule is a product of the McDonogh football family. He starred for the Eagles from 2001 thru 2005 and, after a four-year college career at the University of Maryland, he returned to the Eagles and spent eight seasons as an assistant coach to longtime McDonogh head coach Dom Damico. When Damico stepped down following the 2017 season, Sule was selected as his successor.
Family is key factor in Sule’s philosophy.
“Yes, I believe our players are embracing the F.L.A. (Family, Leadership & Accountability) slogan that I implemented last year,” said Sule. “Our coaches have continued to model and teach these three pillars on a daily basis. F.L.A. is what’s going to make the players in this program successful – not only on the field but in life. It brings me joy when I see our players exhibiting an unconditional love for one another on and off the field. The brotherhood is so strong in our program, I am not shocked by the 6-0 start.”
Although he is not surprised by his team’s performance thus far, Sule knows the road ahead is tough.
“We are 6-0, however, my players understand that we are nothing more and nothing less than that record,” Sule said. “The MIAA is one of the best conferences in the country, so we teach our guys to respect every opponent as our opponents have enough talent to beat you on any given day.
“After a 3-6 season, our players understand the feeling of being at the bottom. We have been really impressed with the leadership of the senior class. Their self-discipline is truly amazing as they work hard to make sure that we bring our best every game. We will continue to earn respect as the leadership of our team grows.”
The concept of family extends to the McDonogh coaching staff, several of which are alumni. The staff includes Matt MacMullan (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers), Travis Holmes ‘03 (Offensive Coordinator), Spencer Folau (Offensive Line/Defensive Line), Andrew Sellers (Running Backs), Jared Jorgensen ’07 (Quarterbacks), Joel Jorgensen ‘12 (Wide Receivers), Marcus Wilson (Defensive Back) and Joe Benson ‘02 (Special Teams Coordinator).
“These leaders are everything to the McDonogh program. McDonogh is home for a lot of people on my staff. Most of my coaches either teach at the school, live on campus, or graduated from McDonogh. We all have a special connection to this community. Also, I have been blessed to have a staff that spends countless hours game planning and communicating with our players to make sure they are prepared each week. I would not be receiving this award if it were not for the many sacrifices these guys make.”
To be honored by the BTC is touching to Sule.
“This is a tremendous honor and I am truly humbled by this award. Maryland football has some of the best coaches in the country, and I am grateful to be recognized by such an esteemed group of leaders and teachers.”
Coach Sule also took a moment to praise the work of the Baltimore Touchdown Club.
“The BTC does an amazing job of promoting the brand of football in Maryland. Events such as the BTC Super 22 Banquet and the BTC All-Star game give our student-athletes an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities. As a young coach, the BTC has been very supportive, giving me a platform to promote my program and providing fellowship with other coaches throughout the area.”