When Westminster football coach Brad Wilson walked his team from the locker room up to Ruby Field each Friday night, the one thing he loved to see most was a full stadium.
The sight was so important to him that he kept a photo of it at his desk at the school, and it's probably what he'll remember most now that those days are over.
After 11 seasons, five playoff victories and a Class 3A state championship game berth, Wilson's tenure as Westminster's coach has come to an end. On Monday, he informed his players and the administration that he'd be stepping down from his post and moving to North Carolina with his wife.
"It's a community event on Friday nights," Wilson said. "I just happened to be fortunate enough to be in charge."
Wilson said he has tried to make a career at Westminster of putting his players, staff, and parent support first before taking any of the credit for himself. It's the kind of attitude he continues to maintain, even when organizations like the Ravens named him coach of the week to open last season after the Owls ended Middletown's 36-game win streak.
"It's easy to do this at a high school level when you have so much help," Wilson said. "And I've been fortunate enough to have people who just take over things."
Wilson finished his Westminster career with a 71-48 record and four Carroll County championships. He took the 2005 Owls to the state title game against Gwynn Park, where his team lost in double overtime, and the 2012 team to the 4A state semifinals in a loss to Quince Orchard.
Wilson's 71 wins are fourth-most by a Carroll coach, and he's seven behind former Westminster coach Herb Ruby on the all-time list.
On the field, Wilson turned what was once a run-first offense into a spread attack with two receivers on each side and an athletic running back who could do a number of things out of the backfield.
The fast-paced style put signal callers like Kevin Clancy (a 2006 graduate) and Deryk Kern (2013) on display throughout Maryland. Clancy finished his career as the all-time leading passer in Carroll history with 6,229 yards, while Kern was seventh with 4,170. Kern also threw 63 touchdowns his senior season, a state record.
Both earned recognition as The Baltimore Sun All-Metro Offensive Players of the Year.
"We really bought into his system," said Clancy, who played under Wilson during his junior and senior seasons. "Before we had the big year, there weren't that many colleges knocking on the door on our school [to recruit]. That exciting offense didn't hurt, either."
Clancy went on to play quarterback at Shepherd University.
Garrett Bean, a wide receiver on the 2012 team, said Wilson was one of the best coaches he'd ever had.
When he entered his sophomore year in 2010, Bean was brought up to the varsity level. Though the player was skeptical of the move, mostly due to his size as opposed to the older players, Wilson had a method to his madness.
Bean went on to start three seasons for the Owls, and he caught 19 touchdowns in his senior year.
"He's a wonderful coach," Bean said. "I feel like he's known throughout the state, probably expand through a couple of states around Maryland."
Some of the staff members Wilson has spoken highly of throughout his time at the school also went on to have success of their own. That includes current North Carroll coach Todd Edmondson, who worked under Wilson for a few years before becoming an assistant at Loyola.
In his first season as the Panthers' head man, Edmondson took them to a 9-3 season and the program's first home playoff win in history.
When Wilson arrived at Westminster in 2004, he didn't wait long to begin changing the culture and playing style of his team. With the help of the athletics department, the team re-branded itself with new uniforms and logos during Wilson's career.
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Athletic director Terry Molloy and Wilson worked together to do things that they felt would be best for the program, and the school.
"He wasn't afraid to tell me no, but he let me do the job that he hired me to do," Wilson said. "And I have the utmost respect for him not only as a boss, but as a person."
Wilson said he hopes that the Owls hire a new coach from within his program. But if it doesn't, he feels there's still room for the team to be successful the returning crop.
There wasn't any particular moment that the coach said he will remember most. Rather, it was the people he leaves behind, both players and coaches, who made the experience that much more enjoyable.
"All I've ever tried to do was do the best that I could," Wilson said. "I tried to hire the best assistant coaches I could find, tried to develop players into good quality young men, and get them to get the best out of the education that's offered, and to be the best football players they could be.