Less than three weeks before the start of practice, Calvert named Mark Watson its football coach, with the hope that the hiring will bring some much-needed stability to the program.

Watson replaces Ed Hottle, who resigned three weeks ago after one season to become head coach at Gallaudet University, which is seeking to return to varsity status in 2007.

Watson, 26, was an assistant under Hottle last season.

"When Ed actually found out he got [the Gallaudet] job, I was leaning toward going with him," Watson said. "Then I started thinking about applying for this job. This is something I've always wanted. I just didn't know it could happen this soon."

Calvert was in a tough spot, knowing at this point in the offseason that its applicant pool would be small. Few coaches would leave teams on the verge of the start of practice, and few others would feel comfortable coming into a new program with such little time to prepare for the season. Watson turned out to be a perfect candidate because of his familiarity with the program.

"It's a very difficult position," Calvert athletic director Sam Oliver said, "but I think he's up to the task."

Several Calvert sports teams were hurt by the opening last fall of Huntingtown, which drained the school's enrollment. Perhaps none, though, was hurt more than football, which had only 27 players on the varsity, slightly more on the junior varsity. It also did not have a freshman team.

"It's a very difficult position to be in," Watson said, "and I thought long and hard about that before applying for it. It's going to be a challenge, and the kids have to be open-minded"

Watson and Principal Gene Bridgett will discuss this week whether Watson will remain the baseball coach.