Success has been second nature at The Gilman School. But this year is different. For the first time in two decades the Greyhounds will start a season without Biff Poggi on the sideline.
“You kind of miss that presence,” said senior safety/fullback Drew Ehrlich.
The longtime head coach left Baltimore controversially last winter after leading Gilman to 13 conference titles. The Greyhounds finished last year's championship season ranked 13th in the country. Poggi is now an associate head coach at the University of Michigan.
“We've all realized we've been through a lot of adversity, especially with our coaching change,” said senior center/defensive tackle Will Weinfeld. “But, we've all stuck together.”
The new guy in charge is longtime athletic director Tim Holley. He has assumed the role of head coach.
“We've tried to preach to the kids it's really not about who the coach is, it's about the institution,” said Holley. “I played here, coach Poggi played here. There's a huge continuity between the Gilman players of today and the Gilman players of yesteryear.”
As far as the roster is concerned, several players transferred upon Poggi's departure, including quarterback Kasim Hill, who has committed to the University of Maryland. Hill is now at St. John’s (DC). A number of coaches left Gilman as well.
“We lost a lot of people but I think we're ready. I think the seniors that have stayed and the kids who bought in are ready for the challenge,” said senior receiver Zach Jones.
“We've had a lot of guys leaving with Coach Poggi leaving. But it also gave a lot of guys an opportunity to show what we're made of,” said Ehrlich.
The quarterback this year is junior Purnell Hill (no relation to Kasim). He was last year's backup. With so much turnover not many are picking the Greyhounds to repeat as champs. Their message to the naysayers:
“Just watch what we do. Stay tuned because we're going to surprise people. That's going to be a guarantee. We're going to surprise a lot of people,” said Jones.