Former Meade head coach makes a big splash in his first game with the Gaels
Despite a successful career at Anne Arundel County’s Meade High School, there was something about the opportunity that opened at Mount St. Joseph high school last spring that was calling out to Rich Holzer, now underway in his first season as the Gaels' head football coach.
“It reminds me a lot of my high school that I had went to in New York, Archbishop Stepinac. Both schools were founded by the Xaverian brothers,” said Holzer. “Both schools promote similar ideas of how to educate young men. Mount Saint Joe represented both a challenge and an opportunity.”
The first opportunity presented to Holzer and his football team in their 2015 schedule was a trip to Youngstown, Ohio to face Cardinal Mooney High School. He and his players responded with a stellar performance, routing the host Cardinals, 58-12, earning Holzer his first win with the Gaels and the first Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week honor of 2015.
“I think it is a great first step. As a new coach I was excited to get that first win under the belt. And to do it in the fashion that we did is very exciting. However from a program standpoint the coach in me says this is one small step in a long marathon,” said Holzer. “We are looking at this as a jumping off point. Our philosophy at Saint Joe is every week we need to be 1-0.
“What happened the week before as soon as we hit that field on Monday is out of our heads as if it never happened and we are looking at our next opponent. But I am extremely proud of the guys and the way they played as well as how they handled the environment. I think it shows that we are on the right track.”
Holzer was extremely pleased with his team's execution in Ohio. The Gaels did not have a single penalty, and there was just one turnover, which the coach attributed to a “tremendous play by the Mooney defender.” St. Joe operated at a high tempo and wore down the Mooney players as the game progressed.
“From an offensive of standpoint I believe our quarterback Brian Costabile played outstanding. He accounted for over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns,” said Holzer. “Our wide receiver Christian Hayward had five receptions for well over 100 yards and two touchdowns. From a defensive standpoint, our team captain and linebacker Aaron Johnson was everywhere, making 10 tackles, along with BJ Morgan, who had three sacks.”
Traveling to Ohio was also a great bonding experience for the team and the St. Joe football family.
“Playing on the road did have some advantages because it gave our players a chance to see high school football outside of the state of Maryland,” explained Holzer. “We took them to the Pro football Hall of Fame the day after the game so it gave the coaches, parents and players a chance to interact on a personal level outside of the game and the school. I felt as though it was a tremendously positive experience.”
Ultimately, Holzer knows he and his program will be judged by what they can achieve in the ever tough MIAA A Conference which is consistently producing Division I athletes and even a steady stream of NFL players.
“We compete weekend and week out against the best the state has to offer. That is something that every competitive person wants to do to test himself against the best,” said Holzer.
Holzer expanded further on the opportunity he sees in Irvington.
“The support, facilities and student population are a great mix that in my opinion would support a great high school football program. My wife and I had said for a while now that we wanted our sons to go to Mount Saint Joe when they were old enough.
“The transition has been very smooth. The faculty and staff of Mount Saint Joe have been great and extremely supportive. I have gotten help every step of the way and everyone has reached out and supported me, including alumni. The players and parents have been tremendous. Especially our players because they have bought in completely to our system and way of doing things. I feel as though we are miles ahead of where I thought we would be at this point because of the support that we have received.”
Something Holzer brought with him from his time at Meade is an appreciation for the Baltimore Touchdown Club.
“The organization led by Scott Ripley is a tremendously important one as it serves as a point of fellowship for coaches. It promotes the game of football in the state of Maryland. It supports our student athletes through research and All-Star games,” said Holzer. “You cannot put a price tag on the value of this organization. In addition the people that run it do it out of love of kids and a respect for the game of football. They truly are selfless individuals who are committed to helping student athletes and this great game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everyone involved in this organization.”