Even before he played running back at Arundel, Chuck Markiewicz knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up -- coach the Wildcats football team. In 2000, he got that dream job and since then, he’s led the Wildcats to nine playoff appearances, including a 2007 trip to the state finals.
With last week’s 55-20 victory over Chesapeake-AA, Markiewicz earned his 200thcareer victory. He led North County to the Class 4A state title in 1994 and now has the No. 4 Wildcats at 9-0 heading into Friday night’s regular-season finale at Southern.
After playing at Arundel, Markiewicz played two years of football at Anne Arundel Community College, where the team was ranked in the Top 15 his second year. He went on to play at Salisbury and got his first coaching job with the Sea Gulls' JV.
He started his high school coaching career at Arundel when he and former Broadneck coach Jeff Herrick guided the Wildcats JV to a 19-1 stint in the late 1970s. He took his first head coaching job at Chesapeake then moved to Meade as an assistant, taking over the head coaching job in 1988 when Jerry Mears, who had been Markiewicz’s coach at Arundel, passed away. When Andover and Brooklyn Park merged into North County, he moved there before returning to Arundel 12 years ago.
Markiewicz, a physical education and weight training teacher, has become known for his prolific, high-precision passing offenses that have spawned a series of record-setting quarterbacks.
This year, the Wildcats use two quarterbacks, Jack Gordon and Cooper Hibbs, who lead an offense averaging 50.6 points. The defense is allowing just nine points per game with only three teams scoring more than a touchdown.
As this week's Coachspeak guest, Markiewicz answers five questions about his 200th victory, his fondness for the passing attack and the success of the Wildcats program.
What did it mean to get your 200th career victory?
Actually it wasn’t something I thought about a whole lot. I didn’t even realize it until a couple weeks ago. Our website was down but I wanted to look on it for a few things and I just perused across it and I thought, “Oh geez, at the beginning (of the season) I had 191 victories,” so then it came up and I didn’t think about it much until it happened. Of course, my daughter found out about it and they put something about it on Twitter and the kids gave me the game ball after. That was pretty special. We didn’t really make a big deal out of it, because I didn’t want them playing for that reason. We had other reasons to play and they don’t need that kind of stuff. But it was pretty special. It means you’ve been around for a long time with good people.
When and why did you decided to be a high school football coach?
I knew when I was 6 years old what I wanted to be. I played little league football in one of the first little leagues that was established by the Arundel Touchdown Club, who started football at Arundel in 1965-66. That’s when I was 10-11 years old and I played for that organization. We used to sell programs at the (high school) football games in our little Wildcat uniforms and I saw Perry Hackley and John Koch growing up and all the stars of those days, Davy Harrell and those kids, and I wanted to do that. Then when I got a little bit older, Mr. Hoffman was my physical education teacher and he used to come to school in shorts all the time. I thought, "Man, I just wanted to do that," because I was always real good physically. I could do stuff. When I got to high school and college, Buddy Hepfer was my wrestling coach and Jerry Mears was my football coach and Ron Evans was on the staff and he won millions of track championships here. Those guys influenced me very positively and I kind of wanted to do what they were doing, so I knew then I wanted to be a phys ed teacher and all the science didn’t scare me away (laughs).
How did you develop your fondness for the passing offense?
I was defensive coordinator with Jerry Mears for a couple years. We ran multiple defenses and multiple secondaries which is difficult on kids. You don’t get good until the sixth game of the season doing that stuff. I was always afraid of all the holes that I saw on the defense and I always thought you just can’t disguise them all, because there’s 11 people on the team. You can put six in the secondary and you can run. You can put six in the box and you can pass. And I thought, “Gosh, if I was ever offensive coordinator, I’d spread people out and find the holes." We went to a clinic and I met John Yaccino, from Penn Trafford in Pennsylvania, and I got the book Tiger Ellison’s’ Air Raid offense, “Run and Shoot (Football): The Now Attack.” Read that and studied it. When we came back – (current Westminster coach) Brad Wilson was my assistant; we were defensive coordinators – we had all that stuff on napkins and said this is what we’re going to do. The first year we did it was at North County in 1990 and we were 8-2 and had no idea what we were doing (laughs) -- really. We were four-wide and nobody else was, we were no huddle and nobody else was, so we had a huge advantage. Ever since then, we’ve been kind of tweaking it and gotten better coaches who know what they’re doing and it kind of evolved into what it is today. We had the first 2,000-yard passer in Anne Arundel County history in John Ray our first year and that was a big deal.
If you were to get a Mike Preston Report Card on your program this fall, what would the overall grade be and which unit would get the best grade?
I think that our defense would get an A, because our defense has held people to under 15 points a game. We’re real happy about that. Of course, our offense, I think would get an A, but that’s because I’m one of the coaches there (laughs), so I think that they deserve it. I think Jack was 10-of-11 (passing) last game. He’s like 70.9 percent on the year. And Coop’s the same way. Coops about 68 percent on the year. What we’re throwing is a high percentage passing game and it’s a lot of good stuff going on. We’re not just throwing it up and running under it.
What’s the key to maintaining a consistently strong program in such a challenging county and region?
Our administration is very supportive. They know that we’re going to discipline our kids and that we’re going to make sure that their grades are good, because not all of our kids are choir boys, not all of our kids are straight-A students, but it’s important to them to stay eligible. It’s part of our job to make sure the kids are eligible and the kids behave. We tell teachers here all the time that we attack achievement gap by making sure that kids know what the rules are. We enforce the rules, the kids follow the rules and they know exactly what it is they have to do. There’s no superfluous bull crap. If you do this, here’s what’s going to happen. If you do this wrong, here’s what’s going to happen. Our administration is behind that too. It’s not easy to play football at Arundel High School. We demand a lot of our kids. We’re pretty smart though. We've got the head lacrosse coach coaching with us. The head baseball coach is on our staff. When we condition our kids in the summertime, we have 125-130 kids. We’ve got field hockey players. we’ve got soccer players, we’ve got football players all working out at the same time. Our volleyball team is awesome. Our girls soccer team is good. We have a really good athletic program, because our administration really trusts us to do the right thing.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun