With thermometers reading in the high 80s or low 90s, hundreds of Harford County public high school student-athletes battled the heat and humidity to officially begin the 2022 fall athletic season.
Depending on the school and sport, some were out early Wednesday morning, while others were working out in the late afternoon and early evening.
Practices continue for all sports, except golf, up to the MPSSAA’s Sept. 2 start date; golf season started Wednesday.
Around Harford County, there are a few new faces in charge, but one job that is certainly more prominent than others is the C. Milton Wright boys soccer coach.
Brian Tully resigned his head coaching position in the spring after nine years (eight seasons) after building quite the program. Under Tully, the Mustangs won state titles in 2017 and 2018, were state runners-up in 2015, 2019 and 2021 and state semifinalists in 2013 and 2014. Tully’s record was 105-31-12.
Eric Riedlbauer, a 1988 Calvert Hall graduate and former professional indoor player and USISL Champion with the Baltimore Bays, is the new coach.
“Coach Tully has actually been very helpful to me in this process and I’m not looking to go in there and reinvent the wheel,” Riedlbauer said. “I’m kind of trying to continue, not shake things up, continue what he’s had going on all these years.”
Riedlbauer is no stranger to the sideline coaching at the club level and he was an assistant on last year’s Fallston girls state title team. He also coached the Edgewood boys soccer team before the pandemic.
“I coach a girls club team here locally with Pipeline and once they started getting into the high school level, we weren’t playing in the fall,” Riedlbauer said. ”So I thought, maybe I’ll get into the high school thing and Edgewood had an opening, so I did go there for a year.”
CMW graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team and Riedlbauer says this is a very young team coming up, but good.
“A lot of talent still there, it’s always going through there,” Riedlbauer said. “With what Tully has established there, you might have these really good, high-end players that if it wasn’t for C. Milton Wright, would probably go to a private school to play, but they know the culture there and what coach Tully has done and they are fine with staying in the public school system and staying at C. Milton. That’s all on Brian, he’s just done a great job with that.”
There is some senior leadership this year.
“It’s going to be a transition between coaches and everything as Tully’s always been there,” senir defender Dominik Peters said. “I just hope we can get to the state championship like we did last year and just build a team like that again, because that was really good. It was fun.”
Drake Kongkraphun, a senior midfielder said, “The coaches always help a lot and I have a lot of faith in Eric, just as well as Tully. But, it’s up to the players. It’s how bad they want it, that how it’s always been.”
Senior defender Aaron Clarke doesn’t see much difference in his former and new coaches.
“I would say they’re both kind of, I won’t say they are quiet, but I feel like they are very similar,” Clarke said. “They both have a lot of experience and they both played at a high level and they know what they are doing.”
All three seniors have a positive outlook for this season.
“I think we’re going to be good at attacking,” Clarke said. “I think we‘ll score some awesome opportunities at goal, I think we’re pretty technical, so that’s going to help, too.”
Peters said, “I feel like we’re going to be a possession type of team. Everyone that’s going to be playing, we have a good group.”
Kongkraphun added, ”Last year, we were very athletic, the most athletic team, but this year, we’re more skilled. I think it’s just a different style of play.”
The Mustangs begin play on Sept. 2-3 at Bel Air’s annual tournament. The first regular season game will come Sept. 10 on the road versus a strong John Carroll team at 1 p.m.
“My philosophy, my coaching and being older now, I’ve had my glory days, it’s not about me,” Riedlbauer said. “It’s about these kids and that’s what I’m trying to do, I want them to have their time and enjoy this, this is a big deal for them.”