Towson High’s Ryan Pittillo took over as head coach of the varsity football team last year after the Generals were a combined 3-16 the previous two seasons.
Pittillo and the Generals reversed that losing trend in one season by going 7-3 and the second-year coach is determined for them to be even better this year.
Towson, which opens the season on Aug. 31 (4 p.m.) at home against Chesapeake, of Anne Arundel County, has several returning veterans and the coach was confident after the first three scrimmages.
“With this team, I expect nothing less than a playoff team,” Pittillo said. “The kids really expect to win this year and they are playing like a playoff team. Last year, that taste of victory kind of carried over to this year.”
The offensive line graduated three starters, but they return All-County first team defensive tackle Javon Brown.
“I expect him to be All-County on both sides of the ball,” said Pittillo, of the 6-foot, 180-pound senior. “He has great work ethic is a great leader and has a great attitude. He’s the kind of player that brings the team together.”
Senior Jamiel Carlton and junior Cory Gray are two key returning linemen.
Gray (6-0, 270) was the shot put champion at the Baltimore County outdoor championship track meet and Carlton (5-10, 230) spent the offseason bulking up.
“His work ethic is better than anybody I have ever seen,” Pittillo said. “He is in the weight room all the time and his shirt is just drenched.”
The Generals are loaded with veteran depth at the skill positions.
Quarterback Brian Carter (5-10, 181) returns for his senior season.
“He was our main quarterback last year and he had a strong year and came in this year and he is a leader, team captain and he really sets a tone and is looking awesome,” Pittillo said.
He won’t have standout running back Nayshin Simmons at his disposal.
Simmons, who ran for 222 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-36 win over Dulaney last year, transferred to Mervo after his sophomore season.
Pittillo will still have a slew of backs that can carry the load.
First-year varsity senior tailback Jordan Daughtry has already made a significant impact.
“He has an awesome attitude and he’s a great kid,” Pittillo said.
Junior Cole Lakatos joins the Generals from New Jersey after his dad, Scott, became conerbacks coach at Towson University, and he will play wingback and safety.
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to have,” Pittillo said. “He really knows the game and he’s been a huge addition.”
Seniors Alex Simet and Naevon Lane add quality depth to the backfield.
Simet, a captain since his sophomore year, will also play linebacker in his senior season.
“He is a very tough player.” Pittillo said.
Lane should see action at cornerback.
“He is a team-first guy with great speeches,” Pittillo said. “He really, really fires everybody up. He’s the kind of guy that just kind of does it all.”
Top wide-outs are varsity veterans and juniors Karon Bell and Jayquan Jenkins.
In addition to several players playing on both sides of the ball, senior Myles Beard joins Simet to make a dynamic tandem at inside linebacker.
“He (Beard) came on strong for us last year,” Pittillo said. “He’s a beast, tough kid.”
Pittillo also expects promoted JV players and juniors Damone Moore and Nick Grant to work out at defensive end and blocking back.
“They can be impact players on both sides of the ball,” Pittillo said.
Leighton Bechdel should ignite the special teams as punter and kicker.
Bechdel attended the Kornblue Kicking Camp during the offseason and was ranked 10th in the country in punting.
“He is is phenomenal,” Pittillo said.
After hosting Chesapeake, Towson plays at Perry Hall (6 p.m., Sept. 7) and Dulaney (11 a.m., Sept. 15, ) before returning home against Patapsco (1 p.m., Sept. 22.)
Pittillo is eager to get started.
“During the offseason I could tell that the attitudes are changing,” Pittillo said. “We’ve played three teams so far and I feel like our kids expect to win now, which is a totally different mindset and it shows in practice as well as in games that they have that little added confidence.”