After three years as a volunteer assistant, former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster Jr. has been named Poly's new head football coach.
Webster, 43, succeeds Roger Wrenn, who retired in December after leading the Engineers to the Class 4A North regional championship.
An Elkton native, Webster played at Maryland had stints in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns before the Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. He played on the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl champion team, spent one more season with the Ravens and finished his career with the New York Jets in 2002.
He had two coaching interships with the Ravens and one with the Jets, and his continuing interest in the game sparked him to seek a high school coaching position. When Wrenn announced that he would retire after last season, Webster decided to apply for the job.
"I have faith and I believe in God and the Lord works in mysterious ways," Webster said. "I came to volunteer for three years, and I got to know the kids, I got to respect the high school atmosphere and the tradition here, and I'm enjoying myself. I love giving back to the kids. That's what it's about, it's about them and teaching them how to grow."
During his NFL career, Webster was suspended three times for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but the Ravens welcomed him back after his third suspension, which lasted the entire 1996 season. The Baltimore Sun reported in 1999 that Webster's suspensions were twice for testing positive for marijuana and a third time for drinking a beer at his bachelor party — which violated the NFL's policy of no alcohol consumption after a single violation.
Webster said the Engineers know all about that, and he uses it as a teaching point.
"I go by a simple philosophy of telling the kids the story of my scars," said Webster, a father of six. "I give them all my experiences, all my dos and my don'ts to help them grow from that. They can relate, and if you're not telling them the truth, they know it. My grandfather and grandmother said, 'You do have a past but you don't have to live it. You're a better person. It makes you stronger.'"
Webster said he learned a great deal from the legendary Wrenn, who won 285 games over 40 years as a high school coach in Baltimore City, especially about organization, time management and innovation.
Wrenn said Webster has worked hard to adjust to high school coaching.
"High school coaching, of course, is a whole different thing," Wrenn said. "It's not so position specific. He's as expert as anybody can be at defensive line play and technique with all of his playing experience. He's kind of learning the overall thing. He's really been pounding at it and going to clinics and reading books, figuring it all out, and he works very well with young people in a lot of respects. I think he's a wonderful choice."
Webster, who works security at Poly as a hall monitor, returns 17 seniors from last fall's 11-1 team and hopes to challenge for the state semifinal berth the Engineers just missed last season and, of course, take a fifth straight victory over archrival City.
"It's every coach's dream to get to the state playoffs," he said. "For me, it's about just being who I am. I take my past experience, what my past coaches have instilled in me from 'Mean Joe' Greene to Don Shula to Brian Billick to Rex Ryan and make my own flavor out of all that and pass it on to the kids, create my vision of how I want to see this team go and grow."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times