By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
2:31 PM EST, December 13, 2013
In 24 years coaching high school football, Damico never experienced a season as perfect as this fall.
His No. 1 Eagles rolled over the competition by an average score of 36-8 to finish 11-0 and win their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship since 2006. It was their third A Conference title but their first outright.
Damico was also All-Metro Coach of the Year in 2000 when the Eagles finished 10-0 and No. 1 after winning the B Conference and defeating A Conference champ Gilman. In 1992, he was Philadelphia Catholic League Coach of the Year while at Cardinal Dougherty.
"This is the most rewarding [season] I've ever had, no doubt. It was just a perfect season. The kids were great," said Damico, whose career record is 152-89, including 117-65 at McDonogh. "I enjoyed the coaches that I have as my assistants. Parents were very supportive. The whole McDonogh community was behind us. It was really not only a perfect game on the field but also perfect as it relates to the whole environment of McDonogh football."
In the season finale the Eagles, who finished 3-8 last season, clobbered arch rival, defending champ and then-No. 1 Gilman, 37-6, to clinch the A Conference title.
The week before that, McDonogh won its closest game of the season, 23-12, at No. 4 Archbishop Spalding. The Eagles led 16-0 but the Cavaliers cut the lead to 16-12 before Alex Hurdle's 21-yard touchdown run sealed it with a little more than a minute to play.
"Once we got through the Spalding game, I kind of thought it's going to happen," Damico said of the title. "At that point we were 10-0 but I just sensed that these kids were not going to lose to Gilman no matter what. Sometimes as a coach you can just feel that. There was a will to win different than any other team I've ever coached, during and after that Spalding game, that I knew would carry over to the Gilman game."
A year ago, the Eagles won just one A Conference regular-season game, but they brought back a lot of players, and even with only 12 seniors, they had strong leadership to go with great team chemistry.
"The kids that we played with last year, we were very close in a lot of games early," Damico said. "We could easily have been 8-3. We lost a lot of tight games and the kids took it to heart and they didn't want to be 3-8 again. They wanted to be 8-3 or better, so they used those close losses' energy to work hard and make sure that didn't happen again."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun