Daryl Wade says it's 'an honor' to get started as George Petrides' City football successor

New City football coach leads the first practice of the season. Wade takes over City’s football program from 40-year coach George Petrides, who retired. Wade will also coach the Knights basketball team.
New City football coach leads the first practice of the season. Wade takes over City’s football program from 40-year coach George Petrides, who retired. Wade will also coach the Knights basketball team. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Last week, Daryl Wade took his wife on vacation to Jamaica, which helps offset the huge time commitment he'll give to high school sports over the next seven months, making family time precious.

On Wednesday, Wade took the field with the City football team for the first time as head coach, moving from an assistant position into the top job after 40-year coach George Petrides retired last month. Wade also coaches the Knights boys basketball team, coming off a 27-0 season and the Class 3A state championship in March.


"We always go on vacation around that time," Wade said, "because I'm not free anymore until March. This one was a little different because I've got a new job. This time of year, I would be looking at a little film but it wouldn't be too intense. This year, it's a little more intense because I have to do all the planning."

Wade, who admitted to watching a little film on vacation, put the Knights through their paces on the City turf on a warm Wednesday morning, the first day of practice for all Maryland public school teams.


A basketball and football player at Dunbar, Wade said football was always his favorite sport. Although he has been head basketball coach at Mervo and at City, this is Wade's first job as a head football coach.

He was excited to get on the field with a Knights program that dates back to the mid-1870s.

"It's just an honor for George to consider me to take over his legacy," Wade said. "Becoming a coach at City back in 1995 and getting to work with George, to see how well he was respected throughout the community, throughout the school, throughout the City family, it was great and to be able to coach alongside of him. I learned a whole lot. I think it's really big that man says, 'Here, take the legacy, do what you can and I trust you.' It brought tears to my eyes when he called me and told me he would like for me to do that."

Petrides said he "highly recommended" that Wade be his successor, after the longtime coach opted to retire in July after 40 years as City's varsity football coach. He said he and Wade have similar approaches to coaching.

"He prepares very well for games," Petrides said. "He motivates his players very well. He's no nonsense — that's what I really like — and I think he's extremely intelligent as far as football is concerned."

Wade, 47, counts Petrides among his mentors along with his father and "idol" Bob Wade, who coached him at Dunbar and recently retired as Baltimore City's coordinator of athletics after 19 years, and Woody Williams, who gave him his first coaching job as junior-varsity football and basketball coach at Mervo in 1991.

Daryl Wade takes over a football program that lost in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons, but — more importantly to the City faithful — beat archrival Poly the past three seasons of their 126-year-old rivalry.

Returning Knights quarterback and safety Nah'shon Godfrey called Wade's coaching style "very interesting," adding that Wade has high expectations.

"He pushes you until you have no more. That's the best part," said Godfrey, a senior. "We don't notice it right then and there, but it really pays off. We really feel it in the games like last year when we were down by two touchdowns. And because of the times he pushed us in practice, we would come back in those games."

Because the players were used to Wade as an assistant coach, Godfrey said, the transition was smooth for the veterans.

"It's been great," Godfrey said. "Knowing coach Wade from last year and playing basketball with him for two years, we've built a great relationship. I feel as though he's going to take this program to a whole other level. Not that coach Petrides didn't, but I'm just saying with him stepping in, I just feel it's going to be a very productive season."

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Wade will be coaching demanding sports in back-to-back seasons. If the football team makes it to the playoffs, the regional semifinal game would be on Nov. 13 or 14 and the first practice date for basketball is Nov. 14. The Class 3A state football final is Dec. 4.


"It's going to be tough," Wade said. "I'll do it for as long as I think I can. I've hopefully surrounded myself with great assistants to help me get through it, but once I get acclimated in football, I think everything else will fall into place. Basketball is not the same as football. There's not a year-round involvement. The kids go off to play AAU, but with football, it's a constant — the weight room, getting the kids' bodies in order. I think I'll be able to do both."


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