George Petrides doesn’t remember the first varsity football game he coached at City College in 1975. Years from now, however, he’ll probably still remember his 387th.
Not only did the No. 14 Knights overcome a 14-point deficit to beat Mervo, 20-14, in overtime Thursday, but the victory gave Petrides his 250th career win.
“It means I’ve been here a long time, first of all,” said Petrides with a laugh after the win. “I’ve appreciated every moment of it. I have loved coaching football at City College and working with these young men. You couldn’t ask for a better life.”
At 250-136-1, Petrides has more wins than any other active coach in the Baltimore area and ranks second in Maryland behind Good Counsel’s Bob Milloy, who is 380-110-2.
For most of Thursday’s game it appeared Petrides might have to wait at least another week to reach the milestone. Mervo (1-6, 0-3 city Division I) rolled up a 14-0 halftime lead and the Knights (6-1, 4-1) didn’t score a point with their offense until the final 1 minute, 32 seconds.
A safety and Corey Davis’ 55-yard kick return for a touchdown brought the Knights within 14-8 late in the third quarter. On City’s final 59-yard drive, senior quarterback Troy Robinson completed two fourth-down passes, including one on fourth-and-27 when Julius Harvey reached over Mervo’s DeShawn Flythe to make the grab.
Tayshawn Mayo then tied the game for the Knights on a 2-yard run with 1:32 left and Robinson’s 1-yard quarterback sneak won it in overtime.
The players had no idea Petrides was going for his 250th win.
“He’s an excellent coach,” Robinson said. “He’s been coaching at City for a long time and he’s been winning for a long time and today just showed the type of coach he is and the type of team he creates. Even though we didn’t know it was his 250th win, we did it for him, so congratulations to Coach Petrides.”
Although Petrides cannot recall that first game, which the Knights lost, he does remember some of his early wins.
“I know the first game we won was against Glen Burnie,” he said. “The most memorable game — I’ll be quite honest about that — is the first City-Poly game we won. That’s No. 1 on my list. We had lost 17 in a row, so that’s always going to be No. 1.”
That was 1987, a 34-22 win on Thanksgiving Day at Memorial Stadium. The Knights hadn’t beaten Poly since two years after Petrides graduated from City in 1967. A center and linebacker, he never lost a football game playing at City.
Back then, the city teams were in the Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) with the private schools. Petrides coached the Knights to MSA A Conference championships in 1990 and 1991.
In 1991, the Knights finished 10-0 with the No. 1 ranking in The Baltimore Sun and Petrides was the All-Metro Coach of the Year. He was also Coach of the Year in 1987, the year of the breakthrough win over Poly, when the Knights finished 11-0 and No. 1.
Last season, the Knights also ended a losing streak against Poly with a 20-14 win at M&T Bank Stadium. Although that streak had only reached four games, it was still painful for the Knights, who hope to make it two in a row when they meet the Engineers Nov. 9 at M&T Bank Stadium in the 125th edition of what is believed to be the second-longest continual public school rivalry in the country.
For Petrides, the desire to coach emerged as a player at City, and he went on to study at Towson State where he played center for the Tigers.
“I loved athletics and I appreciated what my high school coaches meant to me,” Petrides said of head coach George Young and assistants Joe Brune, Ed Novak and Mel Filler, “and I wanted to be able to give something back.”
Also City’s athletic director, Petrides has coached many sports during his tenure. He still coaches the girls basketball team, leading them to the first state championship for any Knights’ team in 2009. Until recently, he also coached badminton.
C 0 0 8 6 6 -- 20
M 8 6 0 0 0 -- 14
M—Homes fumble rec. in end zone (Ferugson run)
M—Rudolph 11 run (run failed)
C—Davis 55 kickoff ret. (pass failed)
C—Robinson 1 run
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