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John Harvill, longtime Gaithersburg High football coach, dies at 88

John Harvill, the longtime football coach at Gaithersburg High, died Friday from complications of a bacterial infection. He was 88.

After taking over as Gaithersburg’s coach in 1956, the McKinley Tech graduate compiled a career record of 312-97 before retiring in 2000 as Maryland’s all-time winningest high school football coach. In that time, Harvill led the Trojans to state titles in 1986 and 1992 and four undefeated seasons.

“When I first came into coaching in the 1970s, he was the guy; he was the man around here,” said Good Counsel football Coach Bob Milloy, who became good friends with Harvill while coaching at Sherwood and Springbrook. “He turned me every inside, outside, every way you could be turned because he was just ahead of everybody else with some of the things he did on offense.”

Harvill’s coaching tree stretches wide, including former longtime Sherwood coach Al Thomas, Northwest Coach Mike Neubeiser, Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini and Gaithersburg’s Kreg Kephart, who played for the undefeated 1972 Trojans before taking over as coach in 2000 following Harvill’s retirement.

“He was a great leader of men and left a tremendous impression on thousands of people who played under and coached under him,” Kephart said. “He built a fantastic program at Gaithersburg and was a true pillar in the community.”

As a visionary within the local football community, Harvill was instrumental in the creation of the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association state playoffs in 1974. Gaithersburg honored Harvill by naming its football stadium after him in 1996.

Harvill is survived by his wife, Betty, two daughters and several grandchildren.

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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