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Coach Peer's Rebel Football Dynasty

Posted October 22, 2016

Head varsity football coach Toby Peer addresses his team after a 30-10 win over the Urbana Hawks in Week 2 of the 2016 season.

By Brayden Leather

Seven years and 70 games coached with one program is a lot for a modern day football coach. Coaching staffs seem to work like a revolving door these days with one goal for those coaches; turn around a struggling program and eventually move on up success ladder and see how far they can go. That is not the case for South Hagerstown head varsity football coach Toby Peer, who on Friday night became the fastest head coach in Washington County high school football history to win 50 games with one program.

Coach Peer took over the South Hagerstown football program prior to the 2009 season when longtime head coach and current South High algebra teacher Greg Kellick decided it was time to step away from coaching. Since then, Coach Peer’s program has produced numerous talented players including the Maryland state rushing yards record holder Isiaha Smith and most recently, the final recipient of the MVAL Defensive Player of the Year award in Austin Shelton, and Peer’s own son, T.J. Peer. Today, Isiaha is playing in his junior year of college football at The Citadel, a NCAA Division I Southern Conference member school, while T.J. plays his freshman year of college football for Frostburg State University and Austin attends the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Coach Peer has earned the respect of not only the players who have had the privilege to play under him, but countless fans, members of the media and local community, and fellow coaches he has met along with way. “As a coach, he’s probably the most knowledgeable coach I’ve ever had. His true love for the game and developing us as young men is always apparent. You really are naturally drawn to respect him and what he stands for in his life just because of his dedication and vision for where he wants the program to go.” junior quarterback Chase Molony said when asked about the type of person and coach Peer is. Austin Shelton had said, “He always told us how he wasn’t just trying to make a great team but he also wanted to make us into great men. He always stressed doing the right thing. He taught us all a lot in our years there. He told us how doing the right thing now will teach us to do the right thing when we’re husbands and have children.” The positive feedback from players he has coached does not stop there. Jake Bertrand, a senior wide receiver and linebacker mentioned how Coach Peer is always “looking for an opportunity to get better, whether it’s watching film or changing your clothes for gym.” Bertrand also added Peer “sticks to his word” and has a “genuine appreciation for football,” also noting he has not seen a man love football as much as Peer.

Like many high school athletic programs do these days, Coach Peer played a large role in creating the Junior Rebels, a middle school-aged affiliate of the high school program that helps young players grow and develop as well as become more familiar with the high school program and the standards set forth to be successful. The coaching staff also has an after school weightlifting program ran by the high school coaches at South High throughout the year. In addition to the Junior Rebels, Peer’s program has many other various methods to help the players achieve success which ranges from before school “Zero Period” workouts to in-school weightlifting and conditioning classes, to countless hours of film studies among others. Molony, Shelton, and Bertrand all see a very bright future for the program under Coach Peer. “The upcoming players have the potential to be great. Coach Peer and his staff have the opportunity to take the young group and turn up the Rebels to another notch and win a state title.” Bertrand had said. Austin Shelton believes South High can easily be one of the top tier teams in the state of Maryland. Chase Molony said he hopes South will grow to be a strong community and a regular state championship contender like Cumberland’s Fort Hill, who the Rebels recently faced and became the first team in years to hold the Sentinels under at least 30 points in a game as Fort Hill narrowly escaped with a 27-13 win.

Coach Peer is building something special at South High. He always has the right mindset and he usually has some tricks up his sleeve for when times get a little tough. Coming into Friday night’s game against Williamsport, the Rebels were sitting tied with Westminster for fifth place in the 3A West standings, just four accumulated points out of landing a playoff spot. The Rebels have two games remaining on the regular season schedule, one away and one home. On Friday, October 28th, the Rebels will be playing in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia, looking for a shot at redemption against the Jefferson Cougars who beat the Rebels in the final minute of last season’s meeting. On Friday, November 4th, the Rebels will finish the regular season at home while looking to beat the cross-town rival North Hagerstown Hubs for the fifth straight year in the annual Gridiron Classic. And who knows? Maybe Coach Peer will become the fastest Washington County coach to win 100 games with one team faster than he won 50.