Ric Evans has no illusions about his new job.
In taking over Hereford's football team, Evans inherits one of the most successful programs in Baltimore County — if not the state — from one of the best coaches to walk the sideline, Steve Turnbaugh, a two-time All-Metro Coach of the Year who guided the Bulls to three state titles and 11 state tournament appearances in 19 seasons.
"I'm certainly not going to try and fill the shoes of the guy before me. He is a legend," said Evans, who spent the last eight seasons as a Hereford assistant coach and takes the reins Wednesday, the first day of practice for public school teams.
Nevertheless, winning will be expected and Evans said he believes he has the tools, the staff and the players to carry on the Bulls tradition.
"Steve taught me a lot over the years. I really enjoy the football and being the head [junior varsity] coach over the last five years, I've gotten to know these guys," he said. "It's a great group of kids and I've got a good staff surrounding me, so this is really what I want to do. I don't want to stop coaching for quite a while."
Evans, 54, has taught in Baltimore County for 23 years and had stints as assistant football coach at Eastern Tech and Kenwood before arriving at Hereford, where he was offensive coordinator his first three seasons.
"He was a varsity assistant with me and did a great job and then he's done a nice job with the JV," Turnbaugh said. "I think he'll do a nice job. He's got a nice group of kids coming up that he had for two years on the JV and being in on the staff for all those years, the transition will be very smooth, I'm sure."
When Turnbaugh decided to step down after last season to watch his son, Brock, play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins, two of his assistant coaches applied for the job: Evans and defensive coordinator Thomas Hanson. Then Hanson accepted a coaching job in Georgia, close to where he grew up and still has family.
Evans found out in May that he had the job.
"The reason I wanted to do it more than anything else is because of the kids, because of the group of guys that we've got and the groups that will keep coming in," said Evans, who lives in the Hereford zone. "I've gotten to go down and work with doing camps with some of the younger guys coming up, the sixth graders, seventh graders, eighth graders and it's just a great area to coach in and a lot of that again is a credit to Steve and the atmosphere he built up there."
Hereford games have a small-town feel; the program is widely supported in the community and generates big crowds every Friday night at the hilltop field in northern Baltimore County.
The Bulls haven't been to the state tournament since 2009, but qualified for the regional playoffs two years ago. Last season, they went 7-0 through Baltimore County's Division II, but dropped all three of their non-league games — to St. Paul's, Milford Mill and Franklin — and missed the regional playoffs.
Evans, of course, would like to get the Bulls back to regionals as soon as possible.
"I just want to keep the program going in the direction that he took it. He literally turned this program around," Evans said of Turnbaugh, whose first Bulls team finished 11-1 after the program had gone 29-63 over the previous nine seasons.
One of the assistant coaches Evans retained is Tyler Brown, the quarterback on the Bulls' 2007 state finalist team. Brown also predicts a smooth transition.
"I'll always respect [Turnbaugh] and I'll always appreciate what he's done for Hereford," Brown said, "but Ric Evans is probably the person who could take over the program and keep it being a successful football program. He knows the game. He knows how to read a game and how to call the game or adjust to the game on the fly. He also knows how to get a player to work hard and how to get production out of him. He's done a very good job with the kids."
Evans also brings back, after a few years away from Hereford, former Bulls defensive coordinator John Walter as JV coach. Also on the staff are Dave Hall, who assisted at Parkville the last few years; Matt Simms, a former Bulls player; and Ray Causey, who will be assistant JV coach.
The Bulls kick off the Evans era Sept. 5 at St. Paul's at 4 p.m.