When the football season officially gets under way in two weeks, three varsity teams will have new coaches.
But the coaches will be familiar faces to county football fans.
After a 13-year break, Jerry Gray returns to the field at John Carroll, where he started his coaching career in 1964, the Patriots' first season of football.
At Bel Air, Gene Blizzard takes over afterfour years as assistant.
And Lauren Lydic, junior varsity coach at John Carroll last year, moves to North Harford.
During Gray's first stint at John Carroll, some of his new contemporaries were playing high school football. Dave Cesky (Fallston), Macon Tucker (Aberdeen) and Steve Harward (C. Milton Wright) all played against Gray's squads.
"That's the second generation to me. I've watched them play, now I'm looking forward to coaching against them."
Gray, 51, left the Patriots' program to spend more time with his three children, thenages 1 to 7. Now that his youngest son, Shane, is a freshman in highschool, Gray decided it was time to return tocoaching.
"My familysituation is a little different now. My kids are older now. I was sorry I didn't coach three years ago when my oldest son (Dave) played,"said Gray, who teaches history at John Carroll.
Gray coached the Patriots to three 9-1 seasons and compiled a record of 73-41-5 between 1967 and 1978.
Although the high school game is much the same asit was 13 years ago, Gray said he has noticed some differences. One big difference is the size of some of his players, especially Marty Kuser (6-5, 290), Mark Lee (6-2, 245), Scott Bocek (6-2, 260) and David Booth (6-2, 245).
"We just never had people that big when I was coaching before. We never had kids over 215. Now I have four over 245."
Under Gray, the Patriots will go to the air more, but the coachhas no grand plans for his homecoming. He's not sure what to expect from his team or the competition.
"I used to have a team practice where everybody knew what to do. I knew the kids. They knew me. I knew how we stacked up against the competition. I knew how the competition played. I don't have the same feeling now. It's going to take a little time to get the feel of things again."
For Blizzard, who teaches physical education at Bel Air, the transition also has been smooth.
"I was fortunate it came open at Bel Air," said Blizzard. "If another opening had come up at another school and I could have worked it out, I would have done that. I've always wanted to be a head high school football coach."
Also the head wrestling coach for the Bobcats, Blizzard, 37, played football at Towson State University and served as head coach of a junior high school team in West Virginia before coming to Bel Air.
Although Blizzard said he will run a slightlydifferent offense, he hasn't made wholesale changes in the Bobcats' basic game plan.
About 100 boys came out for this year's squad, but Blizzard carries only about 35 on the varsity team which was 3-7 last year. The rest will play JV, so Blizzard can build a strong foundation for the future.
"Our biggest thing at Bel Air is the kids have to learn how to win as well as how to play football. We just don't have that at this point. If we have a real positive season on the JV level, it is going to make it that much better for us in the years tocome."
At North Harford, Lydic was a last-minute replacement as head coach, but he had already moved into the program as an assistant.Another former John Carroll assistant, Tom Hollin, was to take over the Hawks' program with Lydic as assistant. But Hollin resigned a week ago after running into a problem with his job at abeer distributingcompany.
A former assistant at Catonsville High, Lydic runs an exercise equipment business and repair company, BE Fit Inc., and deals with local high schools and colleges. A University of Maryland graduate, Lydic interned with the Colts during their last season in Baltimore.
Like Blizzard, Lydic hopes to build a winning program from a 3-7 squad, but Lydic has made a lot of changes.
"We've changed everything about the program," said Lydic,
32. "We started with a summer weight training program and our offensive and defensive philosophies are different (from those of former coach Kevin Ensor). The football program is more than going out in August and putting helmets on. It's a year-around situation, and we've had a really good response to what we've done."
Lydic's first priority is to stick around a while. Over the last few years, the Hawks have had a lot of coaching changes, especially in assistants, but Lydic hopes to keep his contingentin place as long as possible.