DAMASCUS, Md. (WDVM) – In Damascus, Damascus high school football is a source of pride and a winning tradition. Those are just two of the many reasons that Josh Klotz took the head coaching job with the school.
It’s been a year, but Klotz is finally getting ready to coach his first football game.
“Getting to know these guys outside of football first, before coaching them, actually really helped, because by the time then when we hit the field, I think there was a level of trust,” Klotz said. “Not just them towards me, but me towards them. Where I did feel despite the quarantine, that I was able to get to know them to some degree to hit the ground running.”
Klotz tells WDM that making sure the seniors get playing time this season will be a priority.
“For us seniors, it’s just like one last ride,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Sam O’Brian, who is committed to wrestle at the University of Maryland, said. We’ve played since we were seven or eight years old and you know it’s just like one last ride to play together.”
Despite the fact that fans will not be allowed in the stadium to watch games, Klotz says that the community is buzzing with excitement to have the Swarmin’ Hornets back on the field.
“It’s just great to represent the community as a football team,” O’Brian said. “You know it will just be good to play for them, especially during these times.”
Senior Diego Mendez, who will play his college football at Salisbury University and was a wide receiver last season, will start at quarterback.
“This new coaching staff really stepped up and we can show them that it’s still going to be a great program here and then we’ll keep that winning tradition going,” Mendez said.
Damascus Football has won 11 state championships, including four since 2015, but in recent years, was marred by a scandal, involving a sexual assault case from 2017 and 2018.
Over the past year, since being hired, Klotz has built his coaching staff and began building his culture in Damascus.
“It really started with the coaching staff that I hired, who are all great people, great husbands, great fathers, many of them live here in Damascus,” Klotz said. “It’s relationships that we have been able to build throughout this year even though we weren’t able to coach.”
Mendez says Klotz has changed the culture, but is committed to continue the winning tradition on the field.
“When they first came, they still wanted to keep everything Damascus-like,” Mendez said. “We had a whole conversation about how we feel about it and what we still want in the program and they listened to us. And then they’re really open with everything that we do.”
Damascus will play its season opener Friday in a scrimmage at home against Paint Branch.