Laurel High School named assistant football coach Delbert Hughes as its next head coach, athletic director Torrence Oxendine announced last week.

Hughes, an assistant with the Spartans for the past two seasons, replaces Todd Sommerville, who coached Laurel through a 2-8 season last year and was 5-25 overall in three seasons.

“I’m excited,” Hughes said. “Having worked with the kids for the past few years, I know it’s a great opportunity.”

Hughes is a relative expert in Prince George’s County football, having been an assistant at Northwestern and the head coach at Largo from 2006 -08. Hughes led the Lions to a 13-17 record during his tenure.

The mid-April hire is a relatively late one for high school football coaching vacancies, but Hughes believes the transition will be aided by his familiarity with the Spartans team. Laurel graduated several key skill-position players last year and will be looking to rebuild in 2014, particularly on offense.

“I think it’s going to be easier for the kids because I know them and they know me,” Hughes said. “We have a lot of respect for each other. That’s one part of this, having the hire at this time of year, it’s not as much of an issue.”

Hughes has coached high school football for 38 seasons, spending time in Anne Arundel County before shifting to Prince George’s. He knows that against a grueling Prince George’s County 4A schedule and with key players graduating, he’ll have his work cut out for him in building the Spartans up to a top-of-the-league team.

“We were heavily laden with seniors, and we did have a lot of people playing both ways last year,” Hughes said. “We’re hoping to develop people coming off the JV, and hopefully we'll get a few kids to transfer in and help on offense. We just want to emphasize the most important aspects of the game: strength and academics and knowledge of the game.”

Hughes is the third new hire in Prince George’s 4A this season, as Bladensburg named former Suitland and Gwynn Park assistant Lester Overton its new coach last month, and Friendly appointed Vaughn Smith, former Bishop McNamara and Friendly assistant, to its head coaching position in early March.

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