Rutter is steering FSK to football success
Second-year Eagle head coach is the Week 3 BTC Coach of the Week
The Francis Scott Key football team, which is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2004, is scoring points and turning heads in 2017, under second year head coach Josh Rutter. In recognition, Rutter, a one-time BTC Super 22 selection from FSK, has been named the Week 3 Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week, following his Eagles, 44-20, road win at Patterson Mill last Friday.
Rutter was the defensive coordinate at Francis Scott Key from 2012 thru 2014 and, after taking one year off from coaching, was named the Eagles new head coach prior to the 2016 season. After graduating from William & Mary, where he was a four-year starter at linebacker and a captain his senior year, Rutter began his coaching career as a linebackers coach at McDaniel College before returning to FSK.
Running a Wing-T offense, with some spread variation, the Eagles are averaging a shade below 45 points per game, as their other two wins were a 39-7 rout of North East-Cecil and a 51-28 at Berkley Springs (WV).
“While we were installing the offense last year and learning the ins and outs, this offseason and preseason camp really allowed us to fine tune the offense and work on the details,” explained Rutter. “Our players understand the concepts and schemes and have been able to make adjustments in game, sometimes on their own. In addition to that, we return all but one starter on offense from last year so the continuity is definitely there.”
Another factor in the team’s success was its off-season work and dedication.
“Our guys had a tremendous offseason in terms of weight-room attendance and team camp participation,” said Rutter. “We had two players last year that could bench press over 215 pounds and this year we have 12. Not only that but we have great leadership from our captains and seniors. Our guys have held each other accountable and you can see how important taking care of their assignments have been through the first three games. It also helps that we have some very good players who have made big strides in their confidence and ability from last season.”
Among the players leading the way thus far are seniors Nate Imes and Jake Pirrung. Imes, a two year captain, is a fullback and linebacker is currently leading Carroll County in rushing touchdowns. Rutter calls him “the most dynamic player in Carroll County.” Pirrung “has done a great job orchestrating the offense” as the team’s quarterback and as a senior captain is playing with a lot of confidence.
Juniors Kane Richardson and Will Sturdivant are also team captains and dominant anchors on both the offensive and defensive lines. In addition, junior athlete/strong safety Steven Keeney is third on the team in tackles, has an interception, has rushed for a touchdown and has returned a punt for a TD. One other Eagle of note is senior tight end/defensive end Grant Stantion, who moved from tackle after last season to his more natural position, where he has been a great blocker and deep threat in the passing game.
Francis Scott Key, which moved to 1A this season, put an emphasis on scheduling some teams they have never seen before.
“We felt that this would be a great challenge for our players and would help prepare us for the different playing styles we would see,” Rutter said. “We’ve faced two spread programs, one that threw the ball all over the field while the other had a very tough running back who was a real challenge to defend. With our county using a lot of wide open offensive sets, I feel like our first three games have provided us with quality reps against a wide range of playing styles, most of which we’ll see in the near future.”
Rutter expressed his gratitude for the Coach of the Week recognition.
“It’s an awesome honor and one that I’m very thankful to receive. I know there are a ton of great coaches across the state of Maryland so I couldn’t be more humbled by the fact that some of my peers saw fit to nominate me. On that same note, our players have totally made this a possibility with how they’ve played and their commitment to changing the FSK football program. This also doesn’t happen without the other coaches and their desire to see our program succeed.”
Unlike some of the larger coaching staffs enjoyed by other schools, Rutter’s team consists of four varsity assistants and two JV coaches who help out on Friday nights.
“Kimani Jones is our defensive coordinator who brings college playing experience and a ton of energy and knowledge to our team. He and I have worked together for a number of years and his schemes have allowed us to play sound and fast defensively. Coach Bill Tyler is an FSK alum, our offensive line coach, and someone who knows the Wing-T offense inside and out. He is such a key component with adjustments Friday nights and getting our big guys prepared to play in the trenches.
“Chris Sturdivant is our 4th varsity coach who is all FSK. Not only is he an alum, but he has coached many of our current players through the years at the Junior Eagles, as a JV coach, and now on varsity. Chris was an integral part in our offseason programs and has done a great job coaching our Linebackers and assisting with the offensive line.”
Rutter also expressed his appreciation for the tremendous work done by the Baltimore Touchdown Club.
“The BTC is a great program that does an outstanding job supporting our athletes and getting our players recognition with the possibility of playing at the next level. In addition to that, the BTC represents the good in our sport in terms of leadership, dedication, and being a contributing member to a team. They support the players, but also the coaches in Maryland with resources that allow us to continue expanding our sport and teaching some of the most valuable life lessons a student/athlete will learn through competition.”