There's a youth movement at Mount St. Joseph.
“(Our) running back’s a sophomore. We have two junior slots. We have a sophomore and a senior at outside receiver. We’re only starting two seniors on offense,” said Gaels head coach Rich Holzer.
And they have a freshman, quarterback Billy Atkins, leading the way.
“It’s not a challenge for me,” said Atkins. “As long as you’re a leader, you’re respectful but you’re also stern at the same time, you can lead any group of guys.”
“He’s very calm, cool, collected,” Holzer said of his QB. “When he took over in the middle of the third quarter of the first game we were down by three scores and I was worried because we were bringing in a freshman. I walked over and said: ‘Hey, just stay calm, stay within the playbook’. He looked at me and said: ‘Coach, don’t worry, I got it.’ And he walks out and proceeds to almost win the game for us."
After that it’s been nothing but victories. The Gaels are 3-1 with a quality win over Good Counsel, the first time they've done that in 23 years.
“We’ve been working every week, every day. The Good Counsel win proves it. They’re a good team. We’re a good team too,” said Gaels senior linebacker Ryan Gorman.
Providing some extra motivation for Joe's this year is the new Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association playoff format. Top four teams at the end of the regular season qualify for the postseason. Last year the Gaels would’ve just made it. They finished in fourth place in the MIAA in 2016.
“It gives everyone a second chance even if they didn’t make it necessarily but they’re a great team,” added Gorman. “Top four teams, it gives you a chance to prove yourself and that’s what we want to do. That’s what we’ve been planning on doing all offseason.”
Joe’s next chance to prove themselves is Saturday when they visit Gilman.