Douglass football coach Elwood Townsend was named Ravens’ High School Coach of the Year Sunday after guiding the Ducks, 3-7 two years ago, to the best season in school history -- 13-1 with an appearance in the state final.
Not only did the Ducks reach the state final for the first time, but Townsend’s team won the first football playoff game in school history, 68-0 over W.E.B. DuBois in the regional semifinal. The Ducks went on to defeat Baltimore City rival Edmondson, 20-14, in double overtime for the regional championship and then rolled over Cambridge-South Dorchester, 54-13, in the state semifinal.
In the Class 1A title game, however, the Ducks’ defense continued to shine, but the offense had a tough afternoon against a strong Fort Hill team and Douglass fell, 25-0.
The state title appearance is the latest indication of a program on the rise. In his fifth season with the Ducks, Townsend is steadily building a West Baltimore program that can keep talented players rather than losing them to the traditional public-school powerhouses or the private schools.
Townsend credits a wave of academic reform at the school that has helped him build the foundation for his team. This fall, Douglass added a full-time academic coach to keep the Ducks on the right path in the classroom as well as on the field.
“The school has come full circle,” Townsend said. “We’re trying to get back to the glory days of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I think we’ve done a good job thus far. We’ve built a foundation. Now, we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
The Ducks will graduate 12 players from a roster of 36, while last season they lost 21 of 40.
“My guys stepped up,” Townsend said after the state title game. “They played wonderful all year. I’m very proud of them no matter what happened [Saturday].”
Last season’s All-Metro Coach of the Year, Townsend turned a 3-7 program in 2011 into a 7-4 team that lost only to a state champion and two state semifinalists in 2012. This year’s 13-1 record is by far the best in school history. In 2011, the Ducks scored 78 points and allowed 230. This season they scored 480 and allowed 94.
Their 13-game win streak was the longest in the Baltimore area this fall.
Townsend, 36, played football at Patterson and went on to play at Fayettville State.
He was named Coach of the Week after the Ducks defeated his alma mater in Week 6. The 16-12 win over Patterson ensured the Ducks of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in more than a decade. They rallied from 12-8 down to win the game on quarterback Camron West’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Thornton with 58 seconds left.
Townsend was selected as Ravens Coach of the Year over nine others named Coach of the Week through the fall season. The other candidates: Sean Murphy, Archbishops Curley; Paul Bernstorf, St. Paul’s; Matt Martello, North Carroll; Justin Carey, Hammond, Corey Johnson, Edmondson; Chuck Markiewicz, Arundel; Brendon Ireton, Kent Island; Butch Schaffer, Glenelg; and Andrew Goldbeck, Kenwood.