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Marcus Lewis stepping down as Marriotts Ridge football coach | Howard Sports Notebook

Marcus Lewis is stepping down as Marriotts Ridge's football coach. Lewis, who turned around the Mustangs' football program in his eight-year tenure, will transition to leading the boys basketball team at Marriotts Ridge and being the quarterbacks coach at Calvert Hall, where his son is a sophomore wide receiver.
Marcus Lewis is stepping down as Marriotts Ridge's football coach. Lewis, who turned around the Mustangs' football program in his eight-year tenure, will transition to leading the boys basketball team at Marriotts Ridge and being the quarterbacks coach at Calvert Hall, where his son is a sophomore wide receiver. (Doug Kapustin / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Marcus Lewis knew this day would come.

With his son playing football at Calvert Hall, Lewis making the decision to step down from his post as Marriotts Ridge’s football coach so he could watch his son play for the Cardinals was something he’s been thinking about for some time.

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Lewis, the Mustangs’ head coach since 2013, told his team after its season-ending game Friday that it would be his last with the program.

“I’ve been working with other people’s kids for 25 years,” said Lewis, who compiled a 41-36 record in his eight seasons. “Now it’s time for me to step away so I can see mine play.”

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POLL: Each week this spring, we are letting the community help pick a Howard County boys and girls Athlete of the Week. Our staff, after consultation with coaches, will pick players from each of the fall sports and then let voting decide the rest. To participate, either vote below or click here for the boys poll and/or click here for the girls poll by 11 p.m. Tuesday.


Lewis’ son, Donovan, is a sophomore wide receiver and a lacrosse player at Calvert Hall. While Lewis is stepping away from the Mustangs’ football program, he isn’t done coaching. He will be the quarterbacks coach at Calvert Hall and will switch over to lead the Marriotts Ridge boys basketball team starting this winter.

“This is the way I can see my son play football, continue coaching football but also stay engaged with the student body at Marriotts Ridge,” Lewis said. “I love the school, and I love the students.”

Marriotts Ridge Athletics and Activities Manager Chris Reagle said Lewis has the “biggest heart of anyone” he knows.

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“He truly cares about his players and students learning to do things the right way,” Reagle said. “He is more interested in developing good people than good football players. When we win games, it’s not always because we have the best athletes, it’s often because we have great kids who work hard for each other and especially for coach Lewis.”

It won’t be Lewis’ first time coaching basketball.

Before he turned around the Mustangs’ football team, he was the school’s first boys basketball coach for seven seasons between 2005-06 and 2013-14, compiling a 49-89 record. Two years after only having a junior varsity team in 2005-06, Lewis’ Mustangs went 18-5, and he was The Baltimore Sun’s boys basketball Coach of the Year.

After taking two years away from the program, he coached again in 2012-13 and 2013-14. His last season coaching basketball coincided with his first year as the school’s head football coach.

When Lewis took over the football program in 2013, it was a daunting task. The Mustangs had won only two games in the previous four seasons, including three straight winless campaigns from 2009 to 2011.

As the newest school in the county, founded in 2005, and as one of the smallest schools in Howard, Lewis knew turning around the program would be a challenge.

“It was frustrating. There was no culture established, and you could see it,” he said. “My first job was to get everyone on the same page in terms of our expectations.”

The first year was “tough,” Lewis said, as the Mustangs only had 26 players and went 2-8.

“Honestly, that was the best thing that could’ve happened to us,” Lewis said about struggling in 2013. “While we had to take a step back that year, it really benefited us to get the kids who could live up to the standards we set.”

In his second season in 2014, the Mustangs went 7-4 and made the playoffs for the first time in program history. The team went 8-3 in 2015 and made the playoffs once again.

“That was the group that turned it around for us,” Lewis said. “To go from [2-8] to go 7-3 and make the playoffs at that point in the time was the biggest stepping stone in the football program’s short history.”

After three average seasons, the program’s next big jump was in 2019 when the Mustangs went 8-3, won a share of their first county championship, beat River Hill for the first time and won the program’s first-ever playoff game.

“That was such a special group,” Lewis said. “We had it all. We had pretty good players at pretty much every position. The team chemistry and the leadership was outstanding. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime group.”

While he’ll still be coaching, Lewis admits he’s going to miss coaching football at Marriotts Ridge, especially the 14 underclassmen returning to the varsity team next season and the two assistants who have been with him from the beginning.

“I couldn’t have done this without defensive coordinator Joe McCulloh and line coach Dale Green,” Lewis said. “Those guys have been outstanding and provided an extreme level of support that the program could not survive without.”

Boys Player of the Week (April 10): Kevin Smitson, Atholton football

Atholton's Kevin Smitson smiles on the sideline during the Raiders' 14-0 victory over Marriotts Ridge on April 9, 2021.
Atholton's Kevin Smitson smiles on the sideline during the Raiders' 14-0 victory over Marriotts Ridge on April 9, 2021. (photo courtesy of Kyleigh Eaton)

Raiders coach Eric Woodson said there are few players on his team more valuable than Smitson.

The junior almost never comes off the field, Woodson said, playing running back, linebacker and on every special teams unit.

“He’s one of those hybrid kids. He can do it all, and he’s all over the field,” Woodson said. “He’s just a football player, and he’s got a nose for the ball.”

No play Smitson made this season was more important than his 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Atholton’s 14-0 win over then-undefeated Marriotts Ridge on April 9. Entering the game, Atholton was 1-2, while the Mustangs had outscored their first three opponents 107-0.

“We knew we could play with them, but Kevin putting that first score in set the tone for the rest of the game,” Woodson said. “We had been preaching leading up to the game to set the tone. That was huge for us.”

Initially projected as the Raiders’ third-down back, Smitson took over as the team’s main halfback earlier this season when starter Khalil Tiller-Kinard got hurt. He also has shown his worth time after time on defense, including recording six tackles in that victory over the Mustangs.

“He’s really gritty and is a hard-nosed football player, but he’s also shifty and has some wiggle,” Woodson said. “It’s really nice to know that he’s coming back. He’s a kid I’m really glad we have.”

Girls Player of Week (April 10): Giavana Liberto, Marriotts Ridge girls soccer

Wilde Lake's Jillian Ingram tries to go through Marriotts Ridge's Giavana Liberto to get to the ball during the first half of their game Monday afternoon in Marriottsville.
Wilde Lake's Jillian Ingram tries to go through Marriotts Ridge's Giavana Liberto to get to the ball during the first half of their game Monday afternoon in Marriottsville. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Last season, Liberto was one of the best goal-scorers in Howard County, tying for third with nine goals as a freshman.

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But none of the goals she scored last season or in the regular season this year were as important as her goal on April 8 against Howard.

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In the quarterfinals of the Howard County girls soccer playoffs, the Mustangs and Lions were four minutes away from going into overtime until Liberto found the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

“It was great to see her step forward in the game against Howard,” said Marriotts Ridge head coach Darius Qualls. “We all know Howard has always been a good and talented opponent, and it was exceptional for her to score there to keep the game from going to overtime.”

Liberto ended her sophomore season as the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer with five goals and three assists. With her speed and size, Qualls said Liberto is one of his team’s most versatile players, and he’s excited for her future with the program.

“She plays all her positions very well,” Qualls said. “She’s a very mature young lady for her age, and she’s a very dynamic player.”

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