Towson stokes offense with return of Albert

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Welcome all football thrill seekers.

Watch conservative play-calling get trashed.

A renowned go-for-broke coach is back in the Towson football house, calling the offensive plays in a newly renovated stadium recently named for a man known for taking plenty of risks, John Unitas.

Yes, former head coach Phil Albert has returned to the Tigers as the offensive coordinator after an 11-year absence. He brings with him memories of the days when Towson was a Division III power, playing for the national championship in 1976 on ABC-TV in one of the most memorable games ever played at any level.

Towson lost that Amos Alonzo Stagg bowl game to St. John's (Minn.) in Phenix City, Ala., in the final seconds, 31-28, but 27 years later it still rates as one of the defining moments in the history of Towson athletics.

Now Albert, 59, will try to recapture some of those golden moments, after seven years as an advance game day scout for the San Diego Chargers and the past two years back home as offensive coordinator for Calvert Hall.

Albert said: "It's great to be back here coaching these young kids without all the responsibilities of being the head coach. And it gives me a chance to go for my dream of helping turn this program into a successful I-AA program, just like we did at Division III and D-II."

And Albert concedes he will use every bit of the old Tigers' razzle-dazzle offense and then some to get his team in the end zone. The Tigers are looking to improve on last year's 7-6 season.

"People are always talking about preparing a game plan that includes a lot of trickery and will catch teams off-guard," Albert said. "But you have to have the courage to pull the trigger on Saturday."

Certainly, no one ever accused Albert of lacking any courage to pull the trigger deep in his territory and go for a touchdown or run any kind of play on any down.

"You got that right," said Towson head coach Gordy Combs, a Towson assistant for 19 years before succeeding Albert in 1992.

Senior Tigers wide receiver Jason Galloway loves the new freedom he has under Albert and the knowledge he brings to the game. "I love him as an offensive coordinator," said Galloway, an Old Mill graduate who was the team's second-leading receiver last season. "He lets me do some things on my own, and he has taught me some new pass routes."

Galloway also said Albert has taught him that catching passes is "more mental" than a lot of people believe. "Coach Albert is pretty much a legend around here," Galloway said.

Combs has given Albert carte blanche to call any offensive play at any time.

"I have no problem with any call Phil wants to make," Combs said. "I've seen him pull off so many unbelievable plays during our years together at Towson."

Combs said Albert and he "have a special understanding. When he made me his defensive coordinator [1982] he told me all I have to do is shut out everybody, and I told him [last spring when Albert was chosen to run the offense] all he has to do is gain 300 yards a game and score 30 points."

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