Al Thomas, an iconic figure in Maryland high school football circles, has passed away. He was 76.
Thomas, who won eight state championships at three different high schools in Montgomery County, lost his battle with cancer on Friday, December 23. He spent the final days of his life in hospice care.
The Al Thomas coaching tree includes some of the state’s most successful coaches with roots in Montgomery County.
Marc Thomas, Al’s son, along with Eric Wallich, Terry Changuris, Fred Kim, Michael Neubeiser, Dave Carruthers, Todd Tunnell, Mike Bonavia, Dave Mencarini, John Kelley, Mike Nesmith, Kreg Kephart and the late Dan Makosy are all Al Thomas disciples.
When Seneca Valley opened its doors in 1974, Thomas was hired as the Germantown public school’s first head coach and built the football program into a state powerhouse. He compiled a 120-24 record during his stint as Seneca Valley’s head coach.
Thomas guided the Screaming Eagles to five state championships during his tenure at the Germantown public school. Under Thomas’s tutelage, Seneca Valley captured state titles in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1987.
Before Thomas took over the program at Seneca Valley, he spent a decade as an assistant to head coach John Harvill at Gaithersburg High School.
“Al was a no-nonsense dude,” recalled Richard Howard, a former Gaithersburg High student-athlete. “A straight up guy. He was fair but he wouldn’t take no bullshit.”
When he left Seneca Valley in the late 1980’s he landed at Damascus where he guided the football program to back-to-back state championships in 1992 and 1993.
Thomas made a comeback to Montgomery County football in 2004 when he was hired to be the head coach at Sherwood. He compiled a 54-10 record in five seasons at the Sandy Spring public school. In 2008, Thomas guided Sherwood to a 14-0 record including the Maryland 4A state championship.
During his tenure at Sherwood, Thomas mentored former All-Sentinel quarterback Deontay Twyman who called the Maryland Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer on Facebook “one of the best to ever do it coach Al Thomas thank you for believing in me and teaching me the game you will forever be missed! and thanks for everything RIP COACH.”