Loch Raven coach Jeramiah Bowling had some expert help rallying the Raiders during practice recently.
That's because former NFL star Sean Landeta showed up unexpectedly at his alma mater to give the team a 10-minute pep talk.
"I only found out a few hours before he was coming," Bowling said about the Super Bowl-winning punter, who was an All-Pro three times in a 21-year career after graduating from what was then Towson State University. "It was great for the kids."
The visit, Bowling hopes, will be a springboard for the Raiders to emerge from last year's 1-9 season and make waves in Baltimore County.
"We have a lot of talent returning," said Bowling, who was an assistant coach at Loch Raven last fall.
He points to senior quarterback Montrae Martin (6-feet, 156 pounds) as a double threat to run the spread offense at a very high speed.
Martin will have plenty of speed at the skill positions, including senior slot backs Dawuan Jones (5-8, 158) and Dejon Lee (5-10, 159), senior wideout Bryan Doyle (5-8, 150)
and junior wideouts Parrish Overby (5-10, 145) and Darrius Snowden (6-1, 150).
Senior running backs Marcel Hatchett (6-1, 175) and Jamaal Bryan (5-10, 165) will run behind a line anchored by seniors Taj Whitley (6-1, 175) and Marquise Murphy (6-1, 175) and junior Brandon Sargent.
Most of those players will do double duty, manning positions in a new 4-3 defensive scheme. Among that group are seniors Jaileal Carter (6-2, 256) and Dan Williams (5-8, 225.) and junior Kevin Maultsby (5-6, 215).
Despite having games against playoff contenders Eastern Tech (Sept. 25), Overlea (Oct. 9) and Hereford (Oct. 23), Bowling is optimistic about what lies ahead for his squad this fall.
"I can't speak about what happened before I came here," the former Salisbury University players said. "But we've gotten a real positive response from the kids. They're buying in to what we are teaching."
And they aren't intimidated by the schedule, either.
"We're going to go from one game to the next," he said. "We tell our guys to worry about what's in front of them and that's all. I tell the kids you can only get better by playing high caliber teams. And if you beat one of them, then you've established yourselves."
Bowling said that, as a former wrestling coach, teaching rugby-style tackling techniques comes naturally to him.
"It's basically like a wrestling takedown," he said. "The sport has never been safer."
The Raiders' season-opener in Sept. 4 when the host Chesapeake-Baltimore County at 7 p.m.
"We're trying to turn things around here," he said.