Photo by Rina Levy
When Coach Joshua Klotz first joined the RM football program in 2013, the Rockets left much to be desired. Between 2006-2012, the team had one winning season, and two entirely winless seasons, consistently failing to make an appearance in the playoffs.
In his first two years as coach, though the team remained at the bottom of the 4A West Division, Klotz and his fellow coaching staff had a plan that would drastically revamp RM’s program. In his third year, the Rockets improved to 9-2 and then 10-2 in the following year, making an appearance in the playoffs.
Within the last five seasons, the Rockets proudly boast an overall record of 41-15 and are one of only five teams in the county to have made the playoffs for five consecutive years. The Rockets’ previous most successful streak of playoff appearances was four consecutive years in the late 1960s.
For the upcoming 2020 fall season, however, Coach Klotz will be moving on to become the head coach of the Division 3A State Champion Damascus football team.
Damascus holds an impressive record, having won 46 consecutive games prior to their state champion loss in the 2018 season, and is one of the top teams in the country. Since their loss in the state championships in 2018, Damascus has only come back stronger, winning the state title this past season.
“RM making [the] playoffs five years in a row was a big achievement by RM standards, but that’s not a big achievement up there, so there’s going to be a lot of pressure and definitely high expectations,” Coach Klotz said.
The decision to move to the Hornets came relatively easy to Coach Klotz, as the location is closer to his family. “My kids are three and five,” Coach Klotz said. “Being up at Damascus, I’m two minutes from their daycare and five minutes from my house.” As Coach Klotz’s children approach elementary school age, spending time with them would be challenging as his former position required spending many hours in Rockville.
“I think [in Damascus] I can just be that father, coach, and teacher in a much more balanced way, that will allow me to do the things I love of being a dad and being a coach for as long as I want,” Coach Klotz said.
While making the move was the best decision for his lifestyle, Coach Klotz is sad to leave the RM community behind. “When I first came here, the goal was to… win in the classroom, win in the community and win on the football field,” he said. Within his seven years, great strides were made in the program. Coach Klotz increased RM football’s involvement at Julius West and the greater RM community, and encouraged a new culture that puts an emphasis on academics, commitment and teamwork.
However, Coach Klotz was not able to make these changes alone. “The coaches and players together invest so much year long into the program… it’s definitely hard to leave them,” he said, “When I think back to my top 10 moments, very few of them would actually be from the football games; most of them would just be with the coaches and watching the players grow over their time in our football program.”
Interestingly, there have been many coaching turnovers throughout Montgomery County. “When I resigned I was actually the third most tenured coach in the county after seven years, which doesn’t seem like that long to me,” Coach Klotz said. Despite the changing in coaching staff, Coach Klotz hopes that the strong foundation he and the team have built will enable continued success.
To help build off this foundation and adjust to the coaching transition, Coach Klotz has confidence in the rising seniors to take on leadership roles. “I think that the best teams have a lot of leaders, not just one or two guys,” he said. “In that senior class (class of 2021), there’s a lot of guys who are dedicated…Dudau just got an offer to Morgan State… [and] Dylan Lowe has been at every workout,” Coach Klotz said.
Other players involved in spring sports are also expected to take on key roles next year. “I have high hopes for…Kieran Chai-Onn and Ari Morton who won’t be in and out of the weight room as much because they’re playing spring sports,” Coach Klotz added. “I think [they] will help be leaders even though they aren’t in the weight room.”
While it may be his time to move on, Coach Klotz’s indelible mark on the RM football program will remain through the relationships he built with players, coaches and faculty. “[It was a] very easy decision for me to apply to Damascus because that’s where my family is and where my kids will grow up, but the hard part is leaving people behind: players, coaches and teachers too,” Coach Klotz said.