Winder delivers winner


It was Sunday about 3 a.m. The 3-day-old baby was crying and needed a diaper change.

Mount Hebron football coach Bill Winder needed sleep. But the crying did not upset him. In fact, he was smiling. Life was good.

Not only did he have a new son, William Winder III, but another lifetime dream also was unfolding for the first-time head coach.

Two weeks into the football season the rejuvenated Mount Hebron football program was flexing its muscles by winning two straight games.

Big deal? It is if you put it in perspective.

Before Winder stepped up to head coach, the Vikings had lost 17 straight games -- several of them to the weakest teams in the state. They had won just four of their last 40 games. During the entire 1994 season they scored 22 points and were shut out in their final five games.

The program had sunk so low that at times last season only 15 players dressed for games. Two of the four team captains left the team before the season ended.

"We were ridiculed and humiliated," said Jeremy Desor, a team captain for the second straight year. "There used to be a pretty lenient attitude at practice, because that was the only way we could keep people on the team.

"But coach Winder changed our attitude. He got us working in the weight room, something we hadn't done as a team before. And now we take practice more seriously."

The year-round, weight-room work produced a closely knit group of athletes who had made a significant personal investment.

And the extra physical strength allowed Winder to change from a misdirection style wing-T offense to a power offense. So far, so good.

Mount Hebron has outscored two opponents, 74-0, and racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense each game. Sharing the credit is offensive coordinator Steve Benninghove, a former Mount Hebron head coach -- one of four in the past decade.

The Vikings know that both opponents, Harford Tech and Patapsco, were weak teams. Last year, however, they were losing to equally weak teams.

"I think the way we won was impressive," Desor said. "The Patapsco game was at home, and I think the people who saw that game believe we're a good team now."

The victories have raised some concern among future opponents.

"Last season no one scouted us unless they were looking at the other team," said Winder, who was then an assistant coach. "Last week Liberty, Hammond, Howard and Wilde Lake all had scouts watching us."

Mount Hebron hasn't defeated a league opponent since 1990.

Winder, 45, had waited patiently for a head-coaching chance. He had been an assistant coach at various schools for 20 seasons. Had not Mount Hebron's fortunes sunk so low, he still might be an assistant. He was the only one to apply for the job after the previous coach, athletic director Mark Cates, resigned.

Winder is determined not to waste the opportunity.

He and five parents sold $5,000 in program advertising and used the money to buy new uniforms and shoulder pads. The school always has had a strong boosters organization, the Viking Backers.

"The parents here are phenomenal," Winder said. "It's a tight-knit, old-fashion community like the kind I grew up in on Long Island. A different parent volunteers to have a team breakfast at their house every Saturday. One parent has volunteered a lasagna dinner the night before homecoming."

The team responded to the birth of Winder's third son last Friday afternoon by giving him a cake and a $50 coin good for dinner at Clyde's Restaurant in Columbia.

"These are the kind of thoughtful things this community does, and I really appreciate it," Winder said.

The Vikings face their biggest test so far Saturday at home against Liberty.

If they win that game, the joie de vivre will intensify and memories of nightmarish seasons will finally start to dim.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad