Had he been an inexperienced coach, the 1991 season of frustration (6-4) in which his team lost four games in the final minutes would have destroyed Roy Brown's confidence in himself as a coach.
"I never doubted myself and our system when we lost so many close games last season, but maybe if I had coached only a couple years, it might have bothered me," said Annapolis coach Roy Brown, The Baltimore Sun's Anne Arundel County Football Coach of the Year.
Brown led the seventh-ranked Panthers to the county 4A championship (8-0), 10 straight wins, the state 4A semifinals and a record of 10-2. The winning streak included a 21-0 victory over Friendly in the state 4A quarterfinals.
It was the Panthers' first playoff victory since 1984 and the team's county-record eighth appearance in postseason play, the second under Brown (first was 1989).
This season came on the heels of a campaign in which Annapolis very easily could have gone 10-0. Seven games were settled in the last two minutes.
"We just had incredible bad luck last season," said Brown.
"But this year we made the plays at the critical times which is the difference in a great team and a good team. The difference this year was the execution of our offensive line and a starting backfield of big-play backs, something we didn't have last year."
Annapolis picked up this season right where it finished in 1991. The Panthers dropped their final game in 1991 to archrival Severna Park, 16-14, with time expired and opened at home this fall much the same way. It dropped its season-opener to Randallstown on the final play, 18-16.
"We didn't dwell on last year," said Brown, whose coaching philosophies were honed under two county legends. He began as an assistant under Arundel and Meade coach Jerry Mears in the late '70s and continued in the early '80s under Al Laramore.
Brown credits both late coaches for what he knows about the game and how he handles his players.
"I learned under two great coaches, and here at Annapolis when I took over four years ago it was a matter of carrying on the great tradition," said Brown.
His team did by winning the county championship and being the only local team to defeat fifth-ranked North County (20-19).
A practically penalty-free and fundamentally sound offensive line that opened holes for backs Shawn Taylor (school-record 1,378 yards and 17 TDs) and Kenny Boyd (850 yards and 12 TDs) and a defense that bent but didn't break put Brown's signature -- execution -- on this year's team.
"We had only one offensive penalty in the last four games and our execution was great until the Gaithersburg game [a 35-7 playoff loss in semis] when we had 12 penalties," said Brown.
Brown said the defense "wasn't the best we ever had, but teams had to earn their points against us. Until the Gaithersburg game, nobody ran a long one against us."
No doubt, Brown and his staff of Bill Phebus, Ken Dunn, Tom Newman and Lance Evans earned their points this season.