Fill­ing the void

For­mer Stone front­man Friel tabbed to take over Hunt­ing­town foot­ball pro­gram

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­

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.

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