Everything finally came together for Brooks Norris.
In his seventh season coaching his alma mater, Archbishop Curley, Norris led a special group that steamrollered through the regular season and the playoffs to win its first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title since Norris played in 2001.
Norris said this season’s title hunt began after the Friars were eliminated by Calvert Hall in the 2017 playoffs.
“The core of this team played for Youse’s Orioles showcase team last summer, and you could see the difference this spring,” Norris said. “They stopped worrying about the little things and had faith in their ability. Falling behind early in a game was never a big deal to us.”
After losing to Riverdale Baptist from Prince George's County to open the season, the Friars won 10 straight. Losses to John Carroll and Calvert Hall were minor bumps in the middle of the year, and Curley won 13 straight before another loss to the Cardinals to close the regular season.
“We lost four games, and 20 minutes after each one, we had flushed everything out,” Norris said. “Most of these guys have been together here for at least three years; so we had contributions, on a regular basis, from a lot of guys. This is the tightest group I have ever been around.”
Curley knocked off defending champion Loyola Blakefield to open its postseason run, then defeated Gilman twice, 4-3 and 8-3, to capture the title. The Friars finished with an area-best 28 wins. Norris was a pitcher and first baseman on the 1999 and 2001 A Conference title teams under coach Al Frank. Norris’ father, Tim, an assistant coach with the current team, was a pitcher on the 1978 champion squad.
“I wanted these guys to have a season they could look back on 30 years from now and remember,” Norris said. “The important things here are the lessons they learn, the relationships they develop and the friendships they walk away with.”