GERMANTOWN, Md. (WDVM) – Last season, Travis Hawkins served as the defensive backs coach at Northwest high school under head coach Mike Neubeiser. Now, Hawkins is the head coach.

“I’ve known him since I was a little kid,” senior athlete, quarterback and cornerback BJ Howard, who will play his college football at Bowie State, said. “We kind of grew up in the same place. Him just being the head coach of the varsity football team that I’m on is like crazy, mind-blowing. He tells us what to do, and he’s trying to prepare us for the right steps like college, cause he’s been through it all.”

At just 30-years-old, Hawkins is using his experience of playing football at every level to lead the team into this unique season.

“I mean, with his past, he’s able to show us what you can get to,” senior linebacker Will Harrington, who will play college football at Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said. “And that’s enough confidence and push for everybody.”

Hawkins said it has been a challenge coaching through a pandemic and a unique three-game season.

“I’ve been leaning on coach Nuebeiser, the previous head coach, to lead me in the right direction,” Hawkins said. “He did a great job here and honestly I just want to continue his legacy.”

Hawkins, who is a graduate of Northwest’s arch rival Quince Orchard, played collegiately at Delaware and the University of Maryland and played in the NFL, CFL and AFL.

“The greatest gift you can give to these kids is your experience. I was fortunate enough to play at every level of the game and they look up to me, not only as their coach, but like a mentor,” Hawkins said. “So I’m just here to give back and lead this team to a state championship. And honestly, the spring season is three games, we’re trying to go 3-0 and to us that would be a state championship.”

Neubeiser led the Jaguars to eight playoff appearances in nine seasons and two state championships. The Jaguars lost in the state championship game in 2019. They will open the 2021 season at Richard Montgomery on Friday and finish it at Damascus on April 16. On April 9, they will host QO.