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The Baltimore Sun

Coach of the year

Zack Burke Archbishop Spalding

In Burke's first year as varsity head coach, he had bold aspirations. He believed his Archbishop Spalding team, which won just one Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game last year, could be a playoff contender.

He was right. The Cavaliers earned their first playoff berth since joining the A Conference in 2003.

"The reason I got into this is because I saw a lot of guys that had potential that just needed a little bit of help," Burke said. "I knew they could be there, they just needed to be guided the right way."

Spalding started its playoff quest with perhaps the biggest win in the program's history, a 14-6 victory over then-No. 5 Boys' Latin on April 11. Spalding played themselves into a position where, if they won their regular-season finale over Loyola, they'd qualify for the playoffs. The Cavaliers responded, upsetting the eventual A Conference champion Dons, 12-9, and giving them five conference wins in the process. As well as Burke did his first year, he gave a lot of the credit to his assistants.

"I didn't do this myself. I have great coaches, and without them I wouldn't be able to put a winning season together," Burke said. "Spencer Ford, Chris Turner, Joe Carrier, Eric Distin, Steve Kelly Jr. Without those guys, I wouldn't be close to doing this. We got Coach of the Year, not me."

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