In just his second year on the job as head football coach at Dundalk High School, Matt Banta has the Owls soaring in Baltimore County after a huge 28-7 victory over then No. 6 and undefeated Milford Mill.
The Owls (8-1) are just three years removed from a historic run to the 3A state championship game and, with Banta as defensive coordinator, the 2015 Dundalk squad was dominate.
In 2017 former head coach Sean Sandora departed to become the head coach at Archbishop Curley and Banta was selected to lead the Owls.
A one time prep standout at Marriotts Ridge who went on to star at Salisbury University, Banta began his coaching career with two years on the staff of his college alma mater. After that he joined Sandora at Dundalk. He discussed the biggest difference about being a head coach, as opposed to a coordinator.
“The biggest difference has been the kids buy in to our vision and direction of the program,” said Banta. “This team went through its struggles last season with the youth we had, but the kids are older and gain experience and confidence every week. It was only a matter of time before people took notice.”
Indeed they have taken notice and now comparisons are being drawn between this team and the 2015 Owls.
“Both teams were loaded with talent and had great leadership,” said Banta of the comparison. “Both groups made coaching fun. I think the biggest difference is the youth. That 2015 team was senior loaded, this year we have contributors from all classes, even from our freshman and sophomores.”
The Owls entered their match-up with Milford Mill full of confidence looking to win and evoke a reaction.
“Our goal was to have people open the newspapers and say ‘what the…’ The kids were determined, we had a great four days of practice and film study. Afterwards, it’s hard to say we were shocked because our expectation is to be 1-0 after every week.”
Being named BTC Coach of the Week is a source of great pride for Banta.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m proud that all the hard work we do is getting noticed by coaches and other programs whom I look up to and try to model after.
“This award is because of my staff and their dedication to our kids.” The members of the Dundalk staff are:
Jordan Emge- OC Trevor Walker- DBs/Assistant DC Andrew Goldbeck- WR Rob Sheppard- QB Maxx Townsend- OL/DL John Moorhead- ST Coord. Pete Soehner- OL/DL JV Head Bruce Blackwell- JV DC Assistant Head Dominic Campbell- JV Assistant
Finally, Banta reflected on the Baltimore Touchdown Club and its work with high school football in Maryland.
“This is a first class organization,” said Banta. “The BTC does wonders for kids in promoting them for college athletics and academics. Not so long ago, I was selected for the 2008 BTC all-star game. I know personally, I would not be where I am today without the BTC.”