OWINGS, Md. –  After many years, Northern High School fought its way to a championship football game and defeated Linganore High School of Frederick County with a final score of 28-23. Although the team seemed calm on the surface, there were several factors behind the scenes that caused concern among coaches and players.

However, one thing that they never questioned was the talent level of the players and their dedication to excellence. According to Head Coach Rich Holzer, the easiest part of the season was the practices and film sessions with the players because of their hunger to win.

“They are a great group of kids. They showed up every day for practice. Cody Howard, who was our team captain, was setting up drills 10 minutes before practice. Those were the type of kids we had,” Head Coach Rich Holzer explained. “When you coach kids like that, you just focus on the x’s and o’s.”

On the other hand, the most difficult part of getting this team championship ready came through adapting to a pandemic change. After all, building chemistry and game plans for the team through Zoom adds a layer of complexity.

For those who do not remember, Holzer became head coach during the pandemic, which led to additional complications on his end. He was learning the strengths and weaknesses of his players through a computer screen.

“I am trying to get to know these kids. I am trying to get to know the coaches. I am trying to get our offense involved, and I am trying to see what the defense likes to do,” Holzer said. “Just trying to do that all through Zoom was a lot. To the kids’ credit, they all adapted. The assistant coaches adapted. Everyone banded together to make it work.”

At the end of the day, the biggest contributor to their success came from a combination of their talent, great coaching staff, and community support.

“I think it was a combination of having a group of awesome kids who work hard and have been playing youth football together since they were eight years old. Then, we combined some of Coach Crounse’s existing staff with some of my coaches. We created a really solid coaching staff, and we had a lot of community support,” Holzer said. “Everyone pitched in and gave a lot of support. It was really a group effort.”

Reflecting on the massive success of the team, the Calvert County Board of Commissioners honored the team at their December 22 meeting.

Holzer believes that this championship does not just mean a lot to the school, but it means a lot to the entire community. This championship will motivate middle school and elementary school students in the area to achieve greatness. And hopefully, another championship title will be coming around the corner.

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