In each of his three years as the Atholton football coach, Kyle Schmitt has led the
Schmitt, 31, played college football at
He spent 2007 and 2008 as a graduate assistant with the Terps before taking the Atholton job in 2009. Since he took over the Raiders, they've gone 30-8. The last two years, they've lost to the eventual state champ in the regional playoffs.
Last fall, they reached the Class 3A East regional final before falling to River Hill, a team they beat 14-0 during the regular season, ending the Hawks' 48-game Howard County win streak.
After beating Wilde Lake, 14-12, in overtime two weeks ago, and Reservoir, 28-25, last week, the Raiders head to Howard on Friday for a 7 p.m. clash of undefeated teams.
As this week's football Coachspeak guest, Schmitt answers five questions about his team, Howard County football and his coaching philosophy.
You've had a couple of close calls the first two weeks. What have you seen in this team that bodes well for the rest of the season?
We're seeing a lot to improve on. With all due respect to both teams we've beaten, I don't think we've played particularly well in either game. I think we left a lot of points on the field offensively. We're not very good in the red zone. We're not finishing right now. We punted, I think, three times those two games, but we're stalling a lot in the red zone. Defensively, I thought we played well our first game. Reservoir got after us with a couple big plays where we had to get off the field on third down. With that being said, I think there's incredible room for improvement. This team's young, not in class but in experience. As far as good things, we're 2-0, we're not 0-2. We picked up two wins now that in November when it's playoff time, they're going to be two wins and they get the same amount of points. They've been really gutsy and I think the team's got a lot of character, a really good group of kids. Their experience, we can improve on, so I think we can compete and achieve our goals. We're not going to beat people like we did last year. I think our average margin of victory was probably 30 points a game. It's not going to be that way, but that team also didn't get it done when they were in a tight game. So far, this team has.
How competitive is Howard County football this fall?
It's as competitive as it's been since I've been here. I think from top to bottom it's really, really good. I'll be honest, there are some teams that are still struggling, but those teams have made improvements from where they have been in previous years. The playoff competition is going to be tight. Mount Hebron is really coming along. Reservoir, despite being 0-2, I think is a really good 0-2 football team. They gave us all we could handle and they have some really, really good players. Right now, River Hill is probably still at the top, but there's a group of about six or seven teams that I think week-in and week-out it's going to be a battle. Personally, I think it's the best public school county in the state. We have to prepare our kids to understand that there [are] no weeks off.
How do you maintain such a consistent program -- making the playoffs all three of your seasons and developing quite a few college players?
It's become a 12-month-a-year job. If you're not doing it that way, then you're probably not winning as much as the good programs. Really, it starts with the offseason program. Our kids start lifting weights in December and they go all the way through to August. The improvement level is great for the kids. And I have a staff of coaches that is pretty much the same staff that's been together for three years. Having that consistency makes it successful. Having good players doesn't hurt.
What's the most important thing you've learned in those three seasons about coaching high school football?
I would say that there needs to be a balance as a coach, that you need to demand a lot of your players, but with that being said, this isn’t college football, this isn’t the
What is your coaching philosophy and how did that develop?