EASTON, MD - We are starting a new WBOC web series called "Interview of the Week." Each week I will interview a local sports figure on Delmarva. Today, we go to the Mid-Shore to find out a little more about Easton football head coach Matt Griffith.
The 40-year-old has coached for twenty years at the high school level. Over the years, he's coached football, basketball and baseball. Entering his fifth year as Easton's football coach, Griffith is 22-21 counting playoff games. He has led the Warriors to back to back seven win seasons and playoff appearances.
1. Were you born and raised on Delmarva? Where did you go to college? Did you play any sports in college? What was that experience like?
I was born in Baltimore in 1975 and resided in Anne Arundel County until 2004 when I moved to Easton Md. I graduated from Glen Burnie HS in 1993 where I played football, basketball and baseball. I was 1st team all-Metro, 1st team all-county and 2nd team all-state for football. I attended Bowie State University where I played football and received a full football scholarship. The college experience was incredible, however I wasn’t prepared for the level of commitment and the work ethic needed to be able to survive in college. It was so much more than in high school and it required me to find a structure and balance between my academics and athletics quickly. This is one of my biggest focus points for my players, I am trying to get them ready for college whether they are playing a sport or not but to ensure they have the tools necessary to succeed at that level and what to aspect in their first year.
2. Why do you love coaching?
I love the sport and enjoy working with kids. I am a very competitive person and like to win in everything I do. It gives me an opportunity to work with student athletes and help them prepare for the “real world” after high school. My biggest gratification is being able to see development on and off the field with my kids. I make sure they know I can always be an outlet for them no matter what they did or what happens and it creates a very unique relationship between me and my players. It’s about teaching them about life and making them understand every choice you make has a consequence and you need to be prepared for the outcome. Football allows me to reach out to more kids then I would be able to if I wasn’t coaching and football builds character to those who need it.
3. Under your guidance, the Easton football program is becoming a consistent winner again. How were you able to change the culture so fast?
My staff and I have instituted a structure and an expectation to our kids that we will not accept anything less than 100% effort in the classroom and on the field, as well we have received support from Dave Stofa (Principal) and his staff in this process. I treat my kids like college athletes as much as possible. We have a mandatory study hall three days a week, grade checks once a week, All football players wear a shirt and tie on the first day of school so the administration knows I am holding my kids to a higher standard. Senior mentor program for underclassman, we have a team meal every Thursday after practice together and a team meal together on every game day. These are just a few things we have done to make my kids feel special and because of that they have bought in to my system and philosophy. So when we ask them to work harder they know there is a reason for it and in my short time at Easton we have had 10 or 12 kids go on to play college football and they all have said how much they were prepared for practice and the classroom. In addition we have only had one kid in four years become academically ineligible, which I think is pretty awesome considering you have 80+ kids each year.
4. What are your short and long term goals as the head football coach at Easton?
On the field short term goal was to get Easton Football back on the map and we have accomplished that thus far. Now the hard part how do we stay there year after year? We continue to work with the Pop Warner programs and help teach our system to the younger kids each year to make the transition easier for them when they come in. We need to have continued success in the off season in the weight room and finding ways for kids to get bigger faster and stronger so we can continue to compete. Long term we want to win a region championship with a chance to compete for a State Title. In the classroom our short term and long term goals are the same. We want to make sure each kid is excelling in the class room and they are prepared for college when they graduate. We want to continue to graduate men with integrity,honor and a strong work ethic to succeed.
5. Take me through a typical day of coaching varsity high school football. I don't think many people realize all the work coaches put in on a daily basis.
Coaching high school football at a competitive level is a year around job. We attend coaches clinics in the off season, manage a weight room for kids to have the ability to workout, attend 7 on 7 events to help your kids get ready for the season. We spend hours building practice plans and watching film. Here is my schedule once the season starts.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday– 3:00-4:30 study hall / 430-630 practice / 630-730 coaches meet to discuss players and any changes to the scheme for the week. 8pm go home and create practice plan for next day.
Thursday – 3pm 430pm pre game walk through / 430-5pm Team meal / Coaches now go help JV coaches if they have a home game or are away and we can make it there before the start. Go home make sure play cards are completed and ready for Friday night’s game. I normally finish up around 9pm-10pm depending on where the JV game is.
Friday – 230-3pm Team meal / 3pm Tape players and go over any last minute notes and reminders on the game / If we are home we are on the field by 430 for pregame if we are away the times may change as it depends on the bus. Once the game is over we need to load the game film on to Hudl and trade films with other coaches if possible. Then I break down our game film and make notes for Saturdays practice. I am normally finishing up around midnight if all goes well.
Saturday – 8am film session / 9am lifting session – Then spend about four hours on Saturday preparing for the next week
Sunday – We have a two to three hour coaches meeting and watch film together as coaches and finalize our game plan for the week.
On an average week I put in about 30-35 hours into the football program.
Then we start all over again and this does not include my full time job that I have that I spend about 50-55 hours a week doing.
6. Your impressions of the Bayside Conference in terms of football. Do you feel like the quality of football is getting better every season?
The Bayside has gotten stronger each and every year. There is not many Friday nights that you walk out and know you are going to win. Each week is becoming a dog fight and every week counts in the 2A Bayside as playoffs have been tight each year with a four to six team race and most years it is coming down to one point or less to see who gets in.
7. What advice would you give to high school student-athletes hoping to play any sport at the collegiate level?
Take challenging classes, challenge yourself with assignments and remember that every year counts when colleges look at your GPA and scores. Too many kids think they can take a year off and cruise with a 2.0 and it ends up catching up with you. Don’t forget when you get to college every player there will be just as good as you or better. So how can you separate yourself to get noticed by the coaches? Is it your work ethic, is it the extra time you put in on your own in the weight room or watching film? How can you get an edge on your competition? It's that much harder to win a starting spot in college.