Printed by The Enterprise Newspaper on December 29, 2017
By MICHAEL REID firstname.lastname@example.org
When you've won just one game in a season, the only way to go is up and the St. Mary's Ryken football team went way, way, way up in 2017.
With 2016's one-win season lurking over them, St. Mary's Ryken first-year head coach Aaron Brady took the reins of the team and the Knights promptly set a program record with nine wins in 2017.
"The kids bought in and we had an incredible ride," said Brady, who was named All-County Coach of the Year, following his team's last game of the season, a 42-28 drubbing of Archbishop Curley of Baltimore. on Oct. 27. "I think it was just that I pounded into them to have confidence and believing in what they were doing and trusting the process. No one in August would have said we would be 9-1. I'm just really proud of what the kids did, and the sacrifice the coaches put in and also the administration for bringing me here and giving me an opportunity."
Playing as an independent, the Knights started the season Aug. 26 with a 30-28 win over Mount Saint Joseph of Baltimore and then won their next five games and eight of their next nine.
St. Mary's Ryken scored at least 21 points in each game and put up a season-high 48 points against Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) on Sept. 23 and Curley on Oct. 27. The Knights also scored 45 points Sept. 8 in a shutout over Dunbar of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8 that was the first of back-to-back shutouts that also included a 35-0 rout over Paul VI (Va.).
"It's all on the guys," said St. Mary's Ryken senior quarterback Kristian Marks, who threw for 1,668 yards and 23 touchdowns and was named All-County Athlete of the Year. "They just bought in and played hard and we came together as a group so well and I just love that about them. We just came together so well."
Senior running back Calvin Bell finished the season with 1,083 yards and seven scores and junior wide receiver Camden Boyle had a team-high 37 catches for 517 yards and six touchdowns. Defensive team leaders included junior linebacker Will McKay (63 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6 sacks), senior defensive back D'Angelo Tull (3 passes defensed), senior defensive back Jalin Phillips (2 interceptions) and junior lineman Anthony Wilson (2 fumble recoveries).
The rebuild was the third for Brady. He took over a Washington, D.C.-based Gonzaga team that had gone 8-13 in the previous two years and led them to a 29-16 record from 2010 to 2013. At Pennsylvania's Malvern Prep, he led the Friars to a record of 24-9 from 2014 to 2016. At one point, there were five Division I quarterbacks in NCAA football that had played under Brady.
"It was awesome, especially coming off a 1-9 season last year," St. Mary's Ryken senior running back/linebacker Ernie Sigmon said. "I'd say it was pretty spectacular how crazy that is when you think about it."