Maryland School for the Deaf’s varsity football team has a new head coach, Neal DiMarco, but he is hardly new to the perennially strong program.
DiMarco not only played for the Orioles from 2002 to 2005, but he returned to MSD’s varsity team to serve as an assistant from 2015 to 2020.
“It’s a huge honor to be part of the MSD football program as a player, assistant and now as a head coach,” DiMarco said via email. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
DiMarco most recently was the Orioles’ defensive coordinator, a position he held from 2018 to 2020. Not that he was picky about which coaching job he held.
“I have always wanted to coach football regardless of the coach position I hold in the team,” he said. “I missed a couple of seasons and it was not the same for me.
“I just needed to be around football, it’s just very special to me,” he said. “The practices, games, caramaderie within the team and coaches.”
DiMarco experienced that type of atmosphere when he played for the Orioles. He was a standout linebacker who helped MSD win three national championships.
He enjoyed similar success at Gallaudet University, where he played four seasons. In 2011, his final season at the college, DiMarco was named one of the team’s captains and he ended up getting selected to Gallaudet’s All-Decade Honorable Mention team as a safety for the 2010-2019 era.
When asked about coaches from his football past who influenced him, DiMarco named former MSD head coach Andy Bonheyo (who is now the school’s athletic director) and former Gallaudet defensive coordinator John Davis (who is now at Apprentice School Newport News).
While both coaches were different in some ways, DiMarco was struck by their work ethic and the preparedness they showed in practice and games.
“The communication was on point, from top to bottom,” DiMarco said of those two coaches. “Every player knew what they were supposed to do and what other players were supposed to do.”
DiMarco said he carried those traits with him and plans to use them as MSD’s head coach.
DiMarco replaces Ryan Bonheyo, who stepped down as MSD’s head coach because of his growing family and other responsibilities. Like his father, Andy, the younger Bonheyo ran a program that was power, going 46-6 and winning four deaf national championships (the Orioles have won a total of 15).
DiMarco’s coaching contributed to those last four crowns. Now, he’ll try to help MSD maintain its winning ways as a head coach.
When asked what style of play he was looking for from players, DiMarco said he he wanted them to be physical and to play with speed.
“We will need to play with a sense of urgency and be on the same page,” he said. “Eleven strong is stronger than one.”
MSD returns three starters on both offense and defense. The Orioles will have several newcomers, with some freshmen expected to join the team, as well as one senior who is transferring back to MSD to finish his career.
The Orioles begin preseason camp on August 15. In the meantime, their weight room is open for players to work on strength and conditioning. Also, the team plans to participate in a 7 on 7 tournament in a couple of weeks.