Q&A with Meade Head Coach Rich Holzer
Patch spoke with the coach of the Mustangs as the team prepares for a state semifinal showdown against Henry A. Wise.
The Meade High Mustangs had gone 11 years without a football playoff appearance, but this year has fought it's way to a regional title and is now two wins from a state championship.
The Mustangs upset local rivals Arundel and Old Mill, and have now won seven straight games. The team will face unbeaten Henry A. Wise of Prince George's County in the state semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Second-year Meade coach Rich Holzer took time to speak with Patch about the season during a special coaches luncheon held by the MPSSAA on Tuesday.
Odenton Severn Patch: Talk to me about this run of seven wins in a row.
Rich Holzer: One of the big things was playing in the [first] Old Mill game this year. Coming out of that game there was a sense that because it was such a close game (28-18) there was no reason we can’t beat these teams. The players really started believing in themselves and believing in each other and it kind of took off from there.
Odenton Severn Patch: You lost to Arundel 40-8 in Week 3. Then you beat them in the playoffs. So something obviously changed.
Holzer: Against Arundel, we hadn’t faced a passing team all year and we had a new defensive coordinator. There were four guys who played in the second half that didn’t play in that game. Things started coming together a little later ... we got healthy, we really started to get to know the scheme. We adjusted our scheme on offense from throwing it a lot to running the football. Coaches sat down and did an examination of ourselves and realized we had an athletic offense and some good running backs, and our quarterback can run. We needed to run the ball and we made a commitment.
Odenton Severn Patch: You’ve coached at some tough places, and at Meade you have a lot of guys that are maybe coming in and out because of the presence of military families. Talk to me about the challenge of coaching at Meade and what you’ve been able to accomplish these last two years.
Holzer: I think you just have to know what you’ve gotten into. My family has a military background, so I kind of know what’s going on. There are some things you can’t control. We lost our big left tackle and we just replaced him and moved on. As coaches, you just say ‘look, we’re a family.' If someone leaves, we find a way to replace him.
Odenton Severn Patch: What does the matchup with Wise look like?
Holzer: I know a lot about them. Before I came to Meade I coached in Prince George’s County and we actually scrimmaged Wise this year. Our coaching staff is very familiar and one of our running backs was at Wise as a freshman. So there are some ties there. They are an outstanding team and are up there every year.
They are an enormous team. I’m not sure if we have a speed advantage, because they have some fast guys, too. But we’re going to try to take advantage of our smaller, tighter guys on defense.
Odenton Severn Patch: I assume when you took over this job, you had a plan for building the program into a playoff contender. Are you ahead of where you thought you’d be?
Holzer: I didn’t think it’d take that long. We sat down and figured it might be a three or four year process. So we are a little bit ahead of where we are. One of the things we underestimated was that when we get [the players] to believe in the program and the changes we’re making, it will happen faster. The kids are sold.