Bryan Kelly considers each year as having its own identity, so he refrained from calling this year’s team the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion throughout the season.
Still, the Cardinals were indeed last year’s champions and that fact made them the marked team in the country’s best league. In becoming the first MIAA A team to win back-to-back championships since Loyola Blakefield did it in 2007 and 2008, the Cardinals overcame a handful of obstacles. There were trying circumstances, as longtime assistant coach Dave Huntley died in December and a senior captain’s father died the morning of the semifinal game. There were injuries, with senior standouts George Walsh and Jacob Kelly, among others, missing time. And there were the typical highly competitive league opponents who always came with their best. Kelly’s guidance helped the Cardinals manage them all as they once again finished as the area’s No. 1-ranked team with a 16-3 mark.
After the team’s 8-6 win over Boys’ Latin in the championship game, Kelly explained how different this season was and how he knew the exact pulse of his team to push the right buttons.
“I usually write keys to the game, and the last two games I just wrote a letter to the kids and talked about the journey,” he said. “It’s been a journey. It’s been hard.”
A 1987 Calvert Hall graduate, Kelly is in his 23rd season and has a 261-117 mark with the Cardinals winning their fourth league crown under his watch.