Former Annapolis High football coach Roy Brown dies

Anne Arundel County lost one of its most successful high school football coaches on Sunday night when Roy “Danny” Brown died at the age of 70 from complications surrounding Alzheimer’s disease.

Brown was head coach at Annapolis High from 1989 through 2002 and compiled a career record of 104-47. He was the winningest active coach in Anne Arundel County at the time he announced his resignation in July, 2003.

“Roy was a real sensible coach and a very fair coach who could be tough when he needed to,” said Bill Phebus, the top assistant at Annapolis throughout Brown’s 14-year tenure. “Roy was a good leader and I always felt like the kids looked up to him.”

Brown led Annapolis to eight playoff appearances, including six straight from 1997 through 2002 – both of which were county records at the time. The Panthers reached the Class 3A state championship in 2000, falling too Calvert at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

“I always felt like Roy coached with a lot of common sense. He wouldn’t beat his head against the wall having players do something they couldn’t,” Phebus said. “Roy believed if the players weren’t doing what we wanted it was the coaching staff’s fault.”

Brown was a standout athlete at Arundel High from 1963-1966, earning All-County honors in both football and baseball. The Millersville native also played both sports at Western Maryland College. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end was good enough to get a tryout with the Chicago Bears and later played semi-pro football in the Baltimore area.

Brown was inducted into the Arundel High Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. He was named Anne Arundel County Coach of the Year for football multiple times by both Capital Gazette and The Sun.

Brown began coaching football as an assistant to Jerry Mears at Meade High before moving to Annapolis as an assistant to Al Laramore. He spoke often of the lessons learned from both legendary figures as Mears and Laramore are both in the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame.

When Laramore retired as football coach, Brown had the unenviable task of succeeding the larger than life figure. Fortunately, he had help from Phebus, who was also a longtime assistant under Laramore.

“Roy knew he was never going to replace Al. No one could ever do that,” Phebus said. “Roy just wanted to carry on all the traditions established by Al. Roy had the attitude of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ He built off the foundation Al had laid, added his own wrinkles and was very successful as a result of that approach.”

Brown took great pride in having never missed a single practice in 28 years as a football coach. He always gave credit to the assistants, who were Phebus, Larry Brogden and Kenny Dunn for most of his Annapolis tenure.

“Roy was a very humble person and an extremely loyal person,” Phebus said. “Roy was very good at sizing up people and wouldn’t have much to do with people he couldn’t trust. If you were a friend, you could count on Roy for anything. Roy had a temper at times and could get mad, but he never held a grudge.”

Brown also spent 15 years as the top assistant for the Annapolis High boys’ basketball program under head coach John Brady. He stayed in good shape into his 50s and often mixed it up with the players in practice while demonstrating how to box out or post up.

“If you played pickup basketball with Roy you better have a mask on because he was all elbows,” Phebus said.

Brady seconded the assessment of Phebus about Brown’s loyalty, saying it was a real comfort to have a solid assistant beside him on the bench.

“Roy’s personality was deceptive because he didn’t say a whole lot. If you got to know Roy you discovered he was very smart and very funny,” Brady said.

“As a coach, Roy was very perceptive and a great motivator. I would consider Roy a player’s coach because he always put the player’s interests above his own,” Brady added. “That being said, if you were a player and Roy came down on you it meant you had really messed up.”

Brady estimates he socialized with Brown more than any person other than his wife. They went to Rudy’s in Crownsville after Annapolis High football or basketball games, went to happy hour each week at Chili’s in Annapolis and were regulars at the Lexington Market on weekends.

“Roy was a really unique guy, a lot deeper than most people gave him credit for,” Brady said. “Roy would go to England and Ireland to tour the castles. People that only knew Roy casually probably would never have expected that.”

Brown stepped down as Annapolis High football coach because neither he nor any of the assistants were teachers in the building. Brown’s final season in 2002 was the first he coached without being a physical education teacher at Annapolis High, having retired from that position following the previous school year.

Dave Summey, who had been head coach at South River, had come aboard as an assistant at Annapolis toward the end of Brown’s tenure and applied three times for a teaching position at the school without being hired.

In October, 2002, Brown became the seventh football coach in Anne Arundel County history to record 100 victories. His last Annapolis team finished 9-2 after losing to eventual Class 3A state champ Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals.

Brown moved to Fenwick Island, Delaware, after retiring from teaching and coaching. About three years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and has been in assisted living for most of that time.

“The last few years have been really tough to take for me personally,” Brady said. “I visited Roy a few times and it just wasn’t the same person.”

A funeral mass for Brown, who is survived by his wife Kathy, will be held next Wednesday, Nov. 14 (11:30 a.m.), at Baldwin Methodist Church in Millersville.

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