His Mustangs downed Dunbar in front of 2,000 fans in season opener
by Gary Adornato
With only six returning starters, Mervo coach Patrick Nixon was unsure how his team would respond when facing Baltimore City football power Dunbar, before a crowd of more than 2,000 fans, in the season opener for both schools, last Saturday at Poly.
The Mustangs fair just fine, taking down the Poets, 20-14. The performance not only set the tone for Mervo’s season, but it garnered Nixon recognition as this week’s Baltimore Touchdown Coach of the Week.
“Coming into the season playing a program like Dunbar is never an easy task,” said Nixon. “With only returning six starters from last year’s team, we really didn’t know how we were going to stack up against them in that environment.
“It is true that Dunbar has traditionally set the standard for what success in Baltimore City looks like. Coach Smith and his program has motivated our program to want to do better and compete at our highest possible level. With that being said, this win this past Saturday gives us confidence that we can compete at a high level while playing in a hostile environment.”
Although the stage and the game were both enormous, Nixon tried to shield his club from that excitement prior to kickoff.
“We really tried not to feed into all the hype of the game because often times it can lead to distractions,” he said. “I have to admit that it was a great feeling once we entered the stadium. It was one of those feeling where you wish you could be a kid again and play one more time yourself vs. coaching. It was great to see so many supporters of Baltimore City football coming together. It was great for my kids to be able to see and receive all of the support from our city council president Brandon Scott and head of Baltimore City athletics Tiffany Byrd who were front and center.
“As a coach you want to provide your student athletes with the best possible experience while they are in your program. I believe that they were able to get a taste of a college like atmosphere last Saturday night. This gives us confidence that we will be able to perform when we play other high profile games.”
Nixon pointed to the effort put forth by both teams.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort that the kids put into the game. Though we played far from a perfect game, we played with the intensity and passion that I expected us to play with. Both teams and coaches definitely laid it all on the line last Saturday.”
Following last year’s appearance in the 4A state semifinals, followed by Saturday’s victory over a team which owns a slew a state championship trophies, Nixon believes his team now has great opportunities in front of it.
“Last year was a special year for our program. Unfortunately it ended a little shy of our ultimate goal. The 2018 team raised the bar for this year’s team. Though it was the first time in program history to win a regional championship, we now have the confidence that we can play on a state championship level. We believe that each team gets a chance to write their own story each and every year. Returning only six starters from last year’s team means that this team has to create its own identity. Being 1-0 was our first goal of the season and puts us on track to achieve our next goal.”
Nixon also credited his Mervo football staff, which includes Sean Nelson (offensive coordinator), Tavon Smith (passing game coordinator/wide receivers/quarterbacks), James Clash (Ass. Defensive Coordinator/ linebackers/offensive line), Al Cotton (running backs/asst. defensive line), Aaron D’shazo (defensive line), Allen Harvey (assistant defensive/offensive line) and Paul Tolliver (defensive backs).
“These gentleman is what makes this program what it is,” said Nixon.
“They spend countless hours servicing these young men on and off the field. What’s really special about this group of men is the fact that they really are about turning young boys into young men. We run a 12 month program that consists of study hall, tutoring, weight training, college tours/camps, mentorship, practice etc. These guys have done such an amazing job of demonstrating through actions what it means to be a coach.
“We have a saying as a staff to our student athletes that If you give us 100 percent we will in return give you a 1000 percent. Because of the great relationships that these guys have built with our student athletes they are able to get the most out of our student athletes on most occasions. I wouldn’t want to coach with any other guys than the ones I have on staff.”
Being recognize by his peers in the BTC also moves Nixon.
“It’s always special to be recognized by your peers. Often times this is a thankless job so anytime you get an opportunity to be recognized is appreciated. I know that there are so many coaches in the Baltimore Touchdown Club that are doing great things. To be selected is truly an honor. On behalf of myself, my staff, and entire program, we are grateful to receive this honor.”
Finally, Coach Nixon shared some thoughts on the work of the BTC.
“The Baltimore touchdown Club has been doing great work for so many years. They do such a great job of highlighting our student athletes and coaches. This organization has always been a resource when it comes to promoting kids, developing coaches, and recognizing all of the great things that are happening in the area. Their contribution to Maryland high school football is unmatched in my opinion and is the glue that holds Maryland football together.”