New St. Paul’s Head Coach takes Coach of the Week honors after upset win over Pallotti

by Gary Adornato

It was not so long ago that the St. Paul’s football program was on top of the MIAA B Conference, winning three consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2013, but the mantle of defending champion is currently held by St. Vincent Pallotti and when the Panthers visited St. Paul’s, last Friday, no one expected the host Crusaders to threaten an upset.

Not only did St. Paul’s threaten, it scored 29 first half points and locked down Pallotti’s vaunted running game in pulling off a 29-8 victory. For this, first year St. Paul’s coach Scott Ripley has been named the Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week.

“All week we talked about was a sense of community,” said Ripley, who stepped up from the role of defensive coordinator to become the team’s head coach last summer. “One group of teammates representing their school and fellow teammates. This group has no ‘super-stars,’ our mission was to play as a cohesive unit for four quarters. Play hard and stay focused, and finish.”

The Crusaders, now 2-2, have been in every game and really put everything together against Pallotti. With an eye on the past, St. Paul’s can see its future.

“This group of players remembers the past championships,” said Ripley, who once won a MIAA B Conference title as the head coach at now defunct Cardinal Gibbons School. “They are well aware of the rich tradition of Crusader football. This team wants to create their own identity. They are a hard working group that competes each and every day whether it is at practice or at games.

“Winning this game showed that we can finish and win. This team believes that if we could have eliminated the special team’s miscues, we could be sitting at 4-0. They believe that we have a very good team on offense and defense.”

To be the head coach at St. Paul’s is source of pride for Ripley

“I take great pride that I am only the fifth Head Coach since football was started at St. Paul’s in 1953,” he said. “To look up in the stands during Friday’s Pallotti game and see legendary St. Paul’s Head Coach Mitch Tullai watching, brought a smile to my face. He was there to watch the game and I believe to make sure the competitive nature of Crusader football was continuing. I was told by several people close to Coach Tullai, that he was extremely happy after the game and that his Crusaders were in good hands.”

Joining Ripley in his quest to re-establish Brooklandville as Title Town is an outstanding staff.

“Our Offensive Coordinator Neal Keenan has been at St. Paul’s for 19 years. He has won numerous titles in football and has understands the philosophy of the school. Coach Jamaal Johnson is in his third year at St. Paul’s but first as the defensive coordinator. He has also won championships at St. Paul’s and John Carroll. It is exciting to mentor him on the defensive side of the ball.

“Offensive Line Coach Steve Turnbaugh won multiple state championships as the Head Coach at Hereford High School. He has met the world to me. His knowledge and winning attitude makes me want to come to work every day. He is a legend in the football community and is the most humble man I know. Coach Joe Bosley, the president of the Maryland Coaches Association, comes to work each day ready to win. Defensive Backs Coach Hassan Muhammad comes from Loyola and Cardinal Gibbons where has has been a member of numerous championship staffs. Coach Jeremiah Bowling, from Loch Raven is in his first year at St. Paul’s. He is working closely with former Crusader great Anthony Pino on developing our current quarterback Leo Kelly. Also, Alumnus London Fitzhugh, who played college football has been a big help to our staff.”

Ripley, who initiated the BTC Coach of the Week program, dedicates this award to his staff.

“This is a great honor but my staff and players deserve all of the recognition. It is about teaching life lessons between the lines. They do an excellent job of representing this great community we call St. Paul’s.”

Ripley also is extremely proud of the efforts of all of his fellow coaches in the Baltimore Touchdown Club for their contributions to the game and the organization.

“The BTC is a group of coaches that come together for one cause, to promote high school football in Maryland,” said Ripley. “This group of coaches are a bunch of selfless individuals that always go above and beyond the call of duty to put their players and schools first. Receiving no pay for the time and effort, they are simply doing it for the love of the game.”

Photo courtesy of Daniel Daugherty