Andrew Fava was waiting for the right time and place to take his first varsity head coaching baseball job and he finally got it when there was an opening at Dulaney High after the 2019 season.
Fava had coached the JV team at Loyola Blakefield and for the past three seasons he was an assistant at McDonogh.
“I wanted to be a head coach, but the situation had to be perfect for me because I have a produce business and I work at night, so it had to be somewhere near my house and I live five minutes from Dulaney,” Fava said.
He didn’t appreciate how perfect the situation was until he spent a tad over two weeks with the Lions before Gov. Hogan announced on March 12 that schools that were closed for two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That was eventually extended another four weeks until April 24.
Fava praised former coach Ryan Wolfsheimer, whose team was 21-2 last year and lost 1-0 in the regional championship game.
“Just the way the program was that I came into, it was in pretty amazing shape,” he said. “It was very organized. The equipment was in great shape, but most importantly was the kids. They had a routine down and they were like, ‘Coach, we got it, we know what to do, we know how to get loose.’”
That preparation enabled Fava to do what he loves most about coaching, which he started while coaching his son in middle school.
“I could really just focus on the stuff that I love to do which is to coach and teach and things like that — on top of all the administrative stuff, you have to do, because they were so self-sufficient.” Fava said.
The new coach got to see his team play in one scrimmage and it resulted in an 8-8 tie with Gilman.
“We did a lot of nice things. I was really encouraged,” Fava said. “I think we would have been on par with where we were the last two years as one of the best teams in the area.”
Dulaney has gone 56-9 the past three seasons, but lost to Howard in 2017 and 2018 before beating them last year.
This season, the Lions returned senior pitcher Cole McGee and juniors Todd Mozoki and Will Farlow.
Farlow was the Baltimore County Pitcher of the Year and Mozoki was the winning pitcher and went 3-for-4 with a home run in a 6-2 victory over Howard in the regional semifinals.
The triple throwing threats are joined by returning varsity players that includes seniors Finn Drew, Brian Bernhardt, Ryan Conroy, Chris Huebler, Cooper Brandt, JR Harrison, Brian Graziano and Gabe Piche and juniors Jack Felt and Reid Bark.
“I can tell you Dulaney is as talented as anybody in this area,” Fava said. “They are very, very, good, I mean next year’s team is going to be just as good.”
A lot of the players on this year’s roster were reserves last spring.
“Some of the kids didn’t play much last year as juniors so this was their year,” Fava said. “This was their time and it’s just hard and you try to keep it in perspective, but at the same time, you really feel for the kids who are losing out on their one opportunity and then you know a lot of kids don’t play after high school, this was it for them.”
Among the newcomers on the 2020 roster were juniors Grayson Labbe, Rahill Talati, David Durmowicz, Brandon Weber, Eric Sugarman, Griffin Tunison, Teddy Morrow and Ben Ellis.
Schools are postponed through April 24, but athletics have not been officially cancelled, leaving the coach with an optimistic spin.
“Now we are all just hoping that we can get a week of the season in and the playoffs if they even allow that,” Fava said. “I’ve talked to my seniors about it and they will take whatever they can get.”
Whether the players get a chance to play or not, the coach will always cherish his first pre-season with the team.
“I didn’t have coaches cleared yet to help me, I was coaching by myself,” he said. “It was kind of a crazy time those two weeks, but I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have even had any kind of comfort if not for the way those kids go about their business and how organized they are and enthusiastic.”
That enthusiasm was on display every game last year under Wolfsheimer, from the reserves to the top player on the squad and Dulaney’s all-time hits leader, Bryce Frederick, who was playing this spring as a freshman at Radford University until his season was short-circuited.
Fava sends messages of hope to his team every week.
“Stay in shape, don’t get caught where things turn around and you get a blessing and you get to play for a couple of weeks and you have been sitting home for a month and you are not in shape,” he recalled. “It’s easy to give up, but what I said to them, ‘Don’t give up, it’s not over til it’s over, they haven’t cancelled the season,’ until they say it’s over, it’s not over, so you just keep hoping.”