Einstein football is back to hitting its stride

The 5-2 Titans have hit a new stride this season, largely due to a focus on high-character athletes.

He's coached football in Montgomery County for years, but when Mike Bonavia returned to Einstein High School for an administrative position at the start of 2016 after two years at Sherwood, working with students from a non-football standpoint was his focus.

But with a head coaching vacancy created after the November 2015 departure of two-year coach Neal Owens, Bonavia seemed the perfect fit to lead the charge on the gridiron. His familiarity with the sport and the Titan program, having coached Einstein from 2007-2010, made him principal James Fernandez' top choice.

And after recording a .300 win record the past three years, the Titans were perhaps, in need of a refresh. Bonavia accepted Fernandez' request, and began rejuvenating the team by minimizing his roster.

"I had to rally some of the guys in to buy in to our system and when they bought in, we eliminated about eight or ten players that were out here just filling up positions and going with quality guys," Bonavia continued explaining the method to his 'madness.' "Our whole process this year is quality over quantity because we only have thirty-two guys but those thirty-two guys are on the same team playing for each other and it makes a big difference."

Standout wide receiver Christian Greaves, an athlete Bonavia thoroughly enjoys watching on the field, exemplifies the type of player and more importantly, the type of person that will lift this team to greater heights.

"He is probably the most talented receiver that I've ever coached in my career...but he's a better person, he's a better kid...he's got great grades, he meets the eyeball test. He has the talent and ability to make this program go to the next level."

Greaves transferred to Einstein two years ago, not for football reasons,  but to jump start his career.

"I wanted to do the Academy of Finance here because I wanted to be a sports agent when I grow up and the Academy of Finance here is great," the star wideout said with a huge smile. "It's one of the best moves I ever made and I just have fun every day."

His longtime wish was to go on to play college ball at Towson University, and he received that offer last September. But the progress he's made on the field have drawn looks from programs he didn't expect. 

Last Saturday, he spent the afternoon at College Park for an official visit as the Terps took on Minnesota.


Another play making an impact on the field is cornerback Jayden Ashby. 

The junior made his biggest mark yet of the year two weeks ago, when Einstein took on Paint Branch at home. The game was a chance for the Titans to avenge their biggest defeat of the 2015 season, a 41-0 shutout.

"During the week, all we could think about was 'PB' and beating them," Ashby recalled. 

In the stands for that game was his father; his presence on that particular night, even more special than usual.

"My dad, it was his last game that he could watch before he gets deployed and so...I tried to play big for him."

Ashby did just that in the 16-14 victory, recording three interceptions and giving an Einstein home crowd one of the best Friday nights under the lights they'd experienced in a while.

"We really needed a win. He came up with four picks against a good Paint Branch team. Everybody doubted us. He came over top and without his picks, we probably wouldn't have won the game," said Ashby's good friend and fellow DB Zakiy Ward.

Titan team manager Maya Schantz said the night was filled with emotion.

"He did so amazingly well and it was, it was really nice because he knew he made his dad proud."

 Ward explained how the school responded to that night, and to the consistent wins in general.

"The stands, they loved it. Now they're in to the game the whole time...even halftime. You go off to the side and they're still like 'Let's go Titans!'"

With a 63-0 shutout last Saturday over Kennedy, Einstein is now 5-2, and very near to not only reaching but surpassing one of their big season goals.

"We haven't won six games since 2012 and we're trying to get past that," Greaves said.

The Titans will look to achieve a sixth season-win this Friday against Springbrook.  Coach Bonavia believes that with the energy and commitment these guys are displaying, they can do that and much, much more.

"They walk off and every fiber of their body's been energized throughout the entire game."

His star pass-catcher agrees.

"Everybody is just so happy and we're having fun as you can see and we're winning so, you know, it's just a great turnaround."

 


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