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Newly-hired football head coach Elwood Townsend looks to bring winning formula to National Academy Foundation

National Academy Foundation was founded in 2002 as a public magnet program. In 2010, the school’s athletics program began. After going 1-7 last season, former Woodlawn head coach Elwood Townsend will take over the reigns at the budding program.

Towsend coached at Douglass from 2007-2015, where his teams went to two consecutive 1A state championships in 2013 and 2014, before becoming the head coach at Lewis for the 2016 season, making it to the 1A state semifinals and has coached the past three seasons at Woodlawn.

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Last season, National Academy Foundation went 1-7 with their only win coming in a forfeit. Townsend is now ready to return to his coaching roots in Baltimore City, despite having some that may question why he’s taking on such an endeavor.

“The people that I talk to think I’m kind of crazy,” said Townsend. "For me, being a head coach so long and trying to take over a program like this, who struggled in numbers last year, didn’t win any games last year, didn’t even score a touchdown last year. So, I think that anything we do better than last year is a win for the program and the ultimate goal of building it.

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“I like challenges like this. When I took over Douglass in 2007, I had the same struggles. When I took over Reginald Lewis for the one season in 2016, I had the same struggles, but it’s about building a sustainable program. It’s fundamentals to that and I live by those things and we work hard with having a program and building it. So, it makes it that much more fun with building the process of it, than the actual completion of it.”

The Screamin’ Eagles have an uphill battle to climb in the 1A, let alone Baltimore City as a whole. In Baltimore City’s Division II, Lewis and Lake Clifton finished 7-3 on the year, while National Academy Foundation finished second to last in the division. On the other side of the city, Dunbar and Mervo battled for the top spot in the conference with Mervo finishing 11-1 and Dunbar ending the season with a state championship appearance and a 12-2 record.

Competing in Baltimore City will be tough for the new program, but Townsend is up for the task and understands what it takes to take the program to the next level.

“Right now, the top upper echelon of teams in the city are Dunbar, Mervo, Reginald Lewis is a program that’s on the rise — my former defensive coordinator at Douglass Dominic Howard is the head coach there,” Townsend said. "He took over the program after I left. I think that ultimately, the goal is to compete week in and week out with the top teams, but for now, we’re going to take the road that we have and that’s the Division II with Southwestern, New Era, Forest Park, the Ben Franklins of the world.

“So, we have to go out there and play football against those teams until we can get substantial wins against those programs in the next few years. It’s no need to look to play a Poly or Dunbar or City and teams like that.”

National Academy Foundation began varsity play during the 2011 season. The program holds a 30-58 record (.341) in nine years of play. Townsend will have a unique situation heading into a fairly young program with the number of student-athletes and building a winning culture.

“You definitely have to establish a culture — one that you can actually be proud of, the kids will be proud of,” said Townsend. "I have my core beliefs and we want to bring in players that love football of course, the players have to have commitment to their class — coming to school everyday with their attendance — and ultimately graduating.

And then, we want high-character kids, kids that I’m not going to have to chase around and if that means that I’m only going to have 20-25 kids on my program to start with, those kids are going to be all three of those things that I want. With building a program and trying to build a culture like this like I built up at Douglass, it was a build from the bottom up. I want to do the same things at Douglass, here at NAF and that’s to recruit the best players for our program and retain them. We don’t want them to transfer to other programs."

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