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Football Coach of the Year: Elwood Townsend, Douglass

Elwood Townsend

Douglass

In his fourth year as head coach, Townsend led the Ducks to the most impressive turnaround of the season, taking a 3-7 team from a year ago and molding a 7-4 playoff team that lost only to a state champion and two state semifinalists.

The Ducks qualified for the regional playoffs for only the second time in school history, and they suffered their losses by a total of 16 points -- to No. 6 and Class 1A champion Dunbar, 8-6; No. 7 Milford Mill, 18-16; and No. 11 Edmondson, 14-6, in the regular season and then 14-10 in the Class 2A North regional semifinal.

"What made it all the more special is that I took the same group of guys that was 3-7 [last season] and we turned it around," Townsend, 35, said. "Last year, I had a lot of kids coming into the program that it was their first year playing high football school in the 11th grade, so these guys had to buy into what I wanted done. They weren't accustomed to practicing every day, to film study and just the rigorous routine that we go through in practice."

Two years ago, the Ducks went 8-3 in Baltimore City's Division II and moved up to Division I last fall despite graduating 20 of 33 players. They struggled against the city's best teams, but the players hit the weight room in the offseason and played in 7-on-7 competition, building camaraderie.

The Ducks cut their points allowed from 230 last season to 107 this year. On offense, they more than tripled their production from 78 points to 256.

Townsend, who played at Patterson and in college at Fayetteville State, gave credit to his administration for its support, as well as to his assistant coaches Rick Chisolm, Maurice Williams, Marcus Thompson, Rafael Cooper, Dominic Howard and Floyd Thompson.

He also pointed to three seniors stepping up to play key roles -- outside linebacker Deshawn Carter, who had 21 sacks; defensive back Tamal Campbell, who also returned punts; and team captain Shaquille Woodland-Hunt, who caught 45 passes for about 700 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I look back and reflect, and I don't feel too bad about how our season ended. Our losses were kind of growing-pain losses. When the kids are not accustomed to winning, you can fall off the wagon at some point of the game where you just have to jump on a fumble or catch an interception. Those are the things that the kids have to understand when you're playing a winning program like Milford [Mill], Dunbar and Edmondson. Those things happen. We just have to overcome those things, but it was good to beat City and Poly this year," said Townsend, whose career record is 21-21.

Townsend also coached the junior varsity for a year at Douglass and before that at Chesapeake in Baltimore County. He coached wide receivers for a year at Cheyenne East High School in Wyoming while stationed there in the Air Force.

Now, Townsend hopes to use the success and positive vibes around the football team to build a consistent program despite graduating 18 seniors.

"It's more about just not bending what you believe in and my belief playing under Mr. [Roger] Wrenn and under my coach in college, it was 'hard work beats talent when talent don't work hard,' so we weren't fortunate enough to have every kid banging down our doors wanting to come into our program. We had to play the hand we were dealt. We have to go out every day and work hard on and off the field and that's building the consistency we need. Once the kids start believing, the sky's the limit."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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