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Charles Taylor, a member of the Annapolis High School football team, was named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month for August.
Taylor, a senior captain, was nominated for the award by Panthers head coach Nick Good-Molloy, who noticed Taylor's leadership skills during a team activity this past spring.
"We have a competition where we select players on our team to be squad leaders," Good-Molloy said. "Those squad leaders draft members of the team, and the different groups compete against each other to do their best in the weight room and classroom. Charles was a squad leader and did a great job being vocal, supporting his guys and providing motivation when needed. He really walks the walk."
Taylor was brought up to the varsity team late during his freshman year and has been there ever since.
While he plays left guard and defensive end, Taylor views himself primarily as an offensive lineman. He said he loves the importance of the offensive line, despite it not being the most glamorous position.
"Us guys who play on the offensive line call ourselves the difference. How well the team does really is on our shoulders," Taylor said. "If we score a touchdown, we don't get the credit in the stats, but we know it couldn't have happened without us doing our job. Same goes for when the team doesn't get a first down; we view it as our fault."
Taylor said part of the reason the offensive line has excelled is because of Good-Molloy. A former offensive lineman, the head coach focuses on establishing cohesion among the big guys up front, and he works the group hard.
From Good-Molloy's perspective, Taylor has been able to make immense strides since getting to high school because of his willingness to listen.
"The coaches were talking about it the other day -- how he loves being coached," Good-Molloy said. "You get a variety of kids who take coaching differently, but Charles has a real thirst for that knowledge. He takes everything we've got, and that's just a major factor."
With how well the Panthers have been doing these past three seasons, it's easy for Taylor to buy into what Good-Molloy has been selling.
Annapolis has steadily improved since Good-Molloy became head coach in 2012, taking over a program that had recently experienced a 15-game losing streak. The Panthers' win total has increased every year under Good-Molloy, including an 11-2 mark in 2016.
The outstanding season was punctuated with a victory against Broadneck in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 4A East championship game, giving the Panthers their first regional title since 2000.
"It's been absolutely amazing being a member of this team," Taylor said. "The coaches have asked us to put forth more each year, and we've become so much better on and off the field. I love that the team GPA has improved with our record. Beating Broadneck was just an indescribable feeling. There was so much excitement, it was almost overwhelming. I couldn't think in the moment; we were all just jumping around celebrating."
Taylor has also started to get into the coaching side of the game. He's a volunteer coach for the PAL 12U football team.
Good-Molloy, who has seen Taylor in action as a coach, said he's extremely positive with his players and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the field. Taylor has received rave reviews from fellow coaches, parents and his players.
"To me, it's just football. I love it," Taylor said. "Not everyone has the time to do things like commit to helping coach a team. The team I work with doesn't have a big coaching staff -- there's only two or three coaches -- so it's important to try to get more people involved with coaching. Being in high school, I have more extra time on my hands than most adults, so I can always help."
As for this season, Taylor has high hopes.
"I think we could get to states," Taylor said. "I'm not tooting our horn, but that's what I want us to do. Little by little we've improved each year. We won our region last year, so a step forward would be reaching states."