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Longtime friends Braxtyn Koch and Will Tobias doing their part for Winters Mill football

Winters Mill football teammates Braxtyn Koch, left, and Will Tobias are a 1-2 combo for the Falcons this fall. They're also neighbors and both have influential dads. Scott Tobias is a longtime Carroll County coach; Sam Koch is the longtime punter for the Baltimore Ravens.
Winters Mill football teammates Braxtyn Koch, left, and Will Tobias are a 1-2 combo for the Falcons this fall. They're also neighbors and both have influential dads. Scott Tobias is a longtime Carroll County coach; Sam Koch is the longtime punter for the Baltimore Ravens. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Carroll County Times)

Winters Mill heads into its football season finale with 18 turnovers through five games, and two big reasons why lie in a pair of teammates and neighbors who grew up watching their older brothers play for the Falcons.

Braxtyn Koch and Will Tobias have Winters Mill’s defense and special teams clicking as the Falcons prepare for city rival Westminster on Friday night. Koch, a junior, handles the kicking and punting duties and also plays defensive back with Tobias.

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Tobias has three interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown, along with one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery on defense. He also has a punt return for a score.

Koch has two defensive touchdowns and two fumble recoveries, two tackles for loss, and one interception.

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He drilled a 34-yard field goal in Winters Mill’s 23-6 win over Century on April 1, and he holds a 38.7 yards-per-punt average. Koch unloaded a 70-yard punt March 26 against Manchester Valley, and has six punts inside the 20-yard line.

Meanwhile, the Falcons (2-3) have recovered four fumbles off Koch’s punts. Their talents anchor Winters Mill’s game-changing units, coach Matt Miller said.

“They’ve made a lot of big plays for us,” Miller said about his first-team all-county picks from 2019. “Will has been pretty dynamic on defense, and last week we got him going offensively. And Braxtyn has been immense in the kicking game. You usually associate punts with the end of drives, but the way he’s been the kicking the football ... the coverage team has given us a chance to flop the field or give us the ball back. It becomes maybe our best offensive play.”

Credit their football skills to plenty of hard work, their coach said, with a good dose of family matters.

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Koch and Tobias say they’ve been friends since the third grade, and recall watching together as older brothers Ryan Koch and Tanner Tobias played their varsity games. Koch said his family recently moved to another neighborhood in Westminster, very close to where Tobias calls home.

When they finish with high school practice, there’s a good chance they continue learning about the game at home.

Winters Mill's Will Tobias (24) celebrates a punt return for a touchdown with teammate Andrew Buzzeo (7) during a football game at Liberty High School on Friday, March 19, 2021.
Winters Mill's Will Tobias (24) celebrates a punt return for a touchdown with teammate Andrew Buzzeo (7) during a football game at Liberty High School on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Brian Krista)

Koch’s dad is Sam Koch, a 15-year NFL veteran and longtime punter for the Baltimore Ravens. Tobias’ dad is Scott Tobias, a longtime county football coach who led Westminster High School’s varsity squad from 1998-2003.

“Sometimes he comes out to practice and stuff, he’s always helping me out. It’s great,” Braxtyn Koch said about his father. “He has really helped me improve my punting a lot. Earlier we went out to McDaniel [College] and got in some punts. He’s a professional, and he can give me a big boost. Great tips.”

Will Tobias said he remembers being at home as a kid when his dad and assistant coaches would take over the house and pore over film and scouting material for upcoming games. Learning from and listening to the adults in the room paid off in later years.

“We’ve always talked about football. Something we’ve always shared,” Tobias said. “It’s had an impact on my life for sure.”

Winters Mill's Braxtyn Koch prepares to scoop up a fumble in the end zone for touchdown to put the Falcons up 7-0 in the first half. The Falcons defeated visiting Francis Scott Key, 22-8.
Winters Mill's Braxtyn Koch prepares to scoop up a fumble in the end zone for touchdown to put the Falcons up 7-0 in the first half. The Falcons defeated visiting Francis Scott Key, 22-8. (Doug Kapustin / For CCT)

Tobias’ high school football career comes to an end Friday night, and the veteran said he has focused on leading by example during this modified fall season. His offensive action has resulted in six catches for 58 yards as well as a team-high 225 rushing yards with two touchdowns.

“Leading by example means you contribute to the team and help them win,” he said. “I was expecting to come into this season to do well, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far. ... It’s my last ride, so I go out and I play my hardest every single game.”

Koch has another year to go, but said he tries to play just as hard because his teammates are doing the same.

“We’re playing really hard and putting all of our effort out on the field,” he said. “All of us really just go out there and try to make a play. If we see the play, we’ll make it. Any of us are willing to make a play.”

Miller said he’s pleased with their football performance, but the coach is most proud of their willingness to learn and get better as players and young men.

“They’re fun to coach, they are coach-able. Both of them come from places with pretty extensive football backgrounds,” Miller said. Their dads have been involved in football their whole lives. And it’s evident when they play. I think they understand the game pretty well, and they get it honest.

“They hear the right things and they’re open to suggestions and they’re open to coaching. And that’s a big deal.”

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