Filling the void
Former Stone frontman Friel tabbed to take over Huntingtown football program
Just a couple of months ago, it was announced that Paul Friel was leaving his post as the head coach of the Thomas Stone Cougars to move closer to home to take the same position at Southern in Anne Arundel County. Turns out that wasn’t to be. On June 13, Friel was officially announced as the new head coach at Huntingtown where he will replace Kevin Gilligan at the program’s helm. Ultimately, issues with attaining a full-time teaching position at Southern forced the change and Huntingtown ended up the beneficiary.
Over four seasons at Stone, Friel coached the Cougars to a 29-15 overall record, one regional championship and a pair of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference divisional championships. He was also selected as the conference’s coach of the year in 2014. Prior to his arrival at the Waldorf school for the 2012 season, Stone had not won more than two games in a season since 2006.
“I took the job at Southern High School to be closer to home. They were just working on the details of getting me in the building,” Friel said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “Then it became more and more apparent that they may not be able to get me in the building. I had told them from the beginning I wasn’t interested in teaching at Stone and coaching there.
“We got to the point where Stone had already hired somebody, and that was good, that’s what they needed to do. I was definitely not happy waiting and I found out that they hadn’t hired anybody at Huntingtown.”
A few phone calls later and Friel was in the running for the Huntingtown position. The move will keep in within the familiarity of SMAC, as he takes over a program that his Stone
team defeated in the opening round of the 2014 Class 3A South Region playoffs. The Cougars went on to win the region before falling to eventual state champion Franklin of Baltimore County.
“We had competed against them three years. I know they’re a great school with outstanding athletic
programs,” said Friel, who met with his new team on Monday, of what he knew about the Huntingtown program. “They have a lot of proud tradition in their short history. It’s just a school that does it the right way, so that’s exciting to be a part of.”
Huntingtown, which opened in 2004, had reached the playoffs every year from 2007 through 2014 before missing out on the postseason last fall. The Hurricanes have
five regional championships on their résumé, and finished as the 3A state runner-up twice, in 2009 and 2012. After a tough-luck 3-7 campaign last fall, the Hurricanes will be looking to re-establish themselves as one of the top programs in SMAC.
“To be honest, I’m still analyzing what the program needs. As far as pinpointing any particular thing, I can’t say,” Friel said of the task ahead. “What I do know,
I’ve taken over a few programs and we have a system we run as far as offseason training all the way through offense and defense and we’re going to do that and incorporate anything else that’s been successful at Huntingtown and just run with it and do the best we can with the kids we have.”
While taking over the program well into June ratchets up the difficulty level in terms of preparation
for the season ahead, it’s not an obstacle that can’t be overcome, according to Friel.
“it’s a little more challenging,” he said. “You’re a little more rushed and that’s where everything is just kind of on double time, but that’s part of our system. We’re fastpaced as far as getting stuff done anyway. I’m used to moving fast. This is a challenge, but it won’t be a problem.”
Former Thomas Stone head football coach Paul Friel was officially announced on June 13 as the new head coach at Huntingtown where he will replace Kevin Gilligan at the program’s helm.