For Bill McGregor, Gilman’s Kenneth Goins was just another headache on an ultra-competitive schedule.
The longtime DeMatha coach had to game-plan for the Greyhounds’ bruising running back twice, and doing so was no easy task for McGregor.
“We had to take him into account,” McGregor said. “And you stressed all week. We had to wrap up and not use our arms to tackle. Kenny is very powerful, great lower-body and upper-body strength. If you arm-tackle him, he's going to break it and go for big yardage.”
In 2010, Goins rushed for three touchdowns in leading the Greyhounds to a 35-10 win over the Stags. It was the last time McGregor had to go up against the 5-foot-11, 210-pound player, but it wouldn’t be the final meeting between player and coach.
McGregor resigned his position at DeMatha last spring and joined Biff Poggi’s Gilman staff as the running backs coach. Working with the Maryland-bound Goins instead of plotting to stop him was definitely a preferable situation for McGregor.
“He's a great young man. I can't say enough good things about him,” McGregor said. “He's incredibly coachable. He'll do anything you ask him to do. He's a 100 percent team player. He's an outstanding leader with tremendous potential. Every day at practice he has this big old smile on his face. He can't wait to practice. He does everything you want him to do.”
Goins was probably best known this year for his exploits on the other side of the ball. The defensive end recorded 15 sacks and 61 tackles. The 2011 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year finished his Greyhounds career with 41 sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Offensively, Goins was a powerful cog in the Greyhounds’ often-unstoppable rushing machine.
“Gilman this year had a lot of offensive weapons,” McGregor said. “Cyrus [Jones] was absolutely fantastic and [quarterback] Shane [Cockerille] had a tremendous year also. And then Kenny. You had three great people to go to during the course of a ball game. Cyrus could always run or catch anything. He had a lot of touchdowns [running behind] Kenny. The great thing about Kenny is that he never complained about touching the football. It was always for the team. Kenny asked to do blocking and those kinds of things. He'd block for Cyrus and block for Shane and did it with a smile. He was happy to do it, just [so the] team could be successful.”
Goins, who helped the Greyhounds to a 10-1 record and the MIAA A Conference championship, finished his senior season with 290 yards rushing (6.2 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. McGregor was quick to point out that Goins easily could have carried a bigger load, but with Gilman’s other playmakers, the future Terp was happy to do whatever his coaches asked of him. The former Stags coach said he can easily see Goins being an every-down back in college.
“He's a breakaway back,” McGregor said. “He has outstanding speed, outstanding balance and great strength. He's a complete back. He can do it all. … I just think week in and week out, grading the running backs weekly, his grades were fantastic every week. Whether it was run blocking, pass blocking, whatever. And it was just week after week. He competes and did well. That's a real tribute to him.”
McGregor said he would prefer that all of his former players redshirt their freshman year so that they’d get five years at a university and an opportunity to work on a graduate degree. But he also acknowledged that Goins will be physically ready to play next fall if the Terps need him. The Gilman star’s “speed and intelligence” will also serve him well as a true freshman, McGregor said.
After two years of worrying about facing Goins, McGregor said he’s happy to have gotten the chance to coach the future Terp. And the Greyhounds assistant can’t wait to see what Goins is able to accomplish in College Park.
“I think he could be an awfully good player for the University of Maryland,” McGregor said. “I think he's going to be outstanding. I've coached probably over 300 boys going DI or IAA. I've coached a number of guys to the NFL. I think Kenny's future is unlimited. I think Kenny will be able to do anything he wants to do some day. I know the work ethic he has and I know every time he's going to go out there and put everything into it to be an outstanding football player.”