Bill Greer had had enough of coaching football after last season ended. It was tough to blame him. After consecutive 1-9 seasons, Greer's Hornets went 0-10. He was exasperated, frustrated and just plain tired. He was ready to quit.
After a couple months' of reflection, he looked over his roster. There were 14 sophomores who started for him last year. Greer spoke to them to gauge their interest. He was impressed.
Of the 22 players from last year who could come back this season as juniors or seniors, 21 returned. But before they did that, they committed themselves to working year-round in the weight room. That really impressed Greer.
"That, in a nutshell, is why I'm back," he said. "If these kids were not as committed as they are now, I would not have returned as football coach.
"Once you get over the reality of going 0-10 . . . you'd have to be an idiot not to come back to this group of kids."
Greer was thinking about the players with the potential to bring Great Mills a winning season for the first time since 1996, when the Hornets went 8-2. He was thinking about Cody Kohn.
As a 5-foot-7, 140-pound freshman, Kohn stepped in at quarterback in the fifth game of the season after Matt Leddy broke his collarbone. Kohn threw for 855 yards (including three 180-yard performances) in six games.
"You don't throw for 800 yards in six games without any talent," Greer said. "But Cody still has work to do to get him to improve on that."
Kohn said he struggled at times learning on the job. There were times his inexperience epitomized Great Mills's immaturity and gave Greer fits.
"There were a couple of times when I got frustrated and I started yelling at my linemen," said Kohn, who has grown three inches and added about 15 pounds. "I learned pretty quickly that's not something you do. I learned right there those are the guys who take care of you."
Kohn said he started hanging out with his linemen. For a change, the Hornets came through on their promise to go to the weight room.
"In the past, we said we'd go to the weight room. We said we'd run," senior lineman Josh Decker said. "But nobody went to the weight room. Nobody ran. This year, everybody went."
Greer has noticed the difference.
"It's been a 180-degree turnaround from last season," he said. "This group of kids finally hit the maturity level where you have to make a commitment to others to work in the offseason, to work in the weight room. It's the first time we've been able to do that in four years."