Lightning are off to a 4-0 start after win over No. 19 Oakland Mills
In his fourth season, Long Reach head coach Jamie Willis has his football team off to a 4-0 start, which is an unheard of position for the Lightning, the perennial basement dwellers in the Howard County standings. The fast start in 2016 includes Friday’s 14-7 win over No. 19 Oakland Mills, which has earned Willis the honor of the Week 4 Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week.
The Lightning have not been 4-0 since 2004. As has been the case throughout the early part of the season, Long Reach is playing lights out defense. In Friday’s win, the Lightning produced five turnovers against the Scorpions.
“There is no key ingredient. Our kids have worked really hard since December,” said Willis. “They also love and respect each other, our platform is that we are a family and we act like one.”
Willis is excited to put a winning product on the field, but he is proud that the school has always been supportive of the Lightning, even in difficult seasons.
“The student body and the staff have always been very interested in the football program. The staff regularly come out to see their students play, that’s what makes Long Reach High School a special place to teach and work.”
Willis shares much of the credit for the team’s success to his staff.
“My coaching staff is one of the best. The include Harold Williams (Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs) Dustin Zelik (Head JV Coach and Linebackers), Clarence Smalley (Quarterbacks), Barry Bankins (Offensive Line), Brandon Markow (Running Backs), Vaughan Furby, (Wide Receivers), and Tyler Huffman (Defensive Line). They do a great job with our kids and to get them ready to play every week.”
Willis is honored to be recognized by the BTC, but is not satisfied yet.
“It’s an honor and very humbling to be recognized as the Coach of the Week by the BTC,” said Willis. “The players and coaches have worked really hard, however, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goals.”
He also recognized the great work of the BTC.
“I think the BTC does an outstanding job to promote high school football in the state of Maryland. The BTC is always out front leading the way to make Maryland a serious contender in high school football and helping our communities to become great.”