Richard Montgomery High School senior running back Liam Duffy wanted to join the school’s robotics team, but football never left him enough time.
He has helped his dad build a backyard deck and assisted an uncle who’s a carpenter. In the process, he’s developed an affinity for that type of mechanical thinking.
So, Duffy plans to give up football after this season and pursue his other passion in college: engineering, ideally at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“I’ve always enjoyed seeing things and making them fit together in a way they weren’t meant to,” Duffy said.
Duffy is practicing that each week on the football field, making his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame fit in the game’s most physical situations.
After averaging 100 yards per game in the season’s first half, Duffy will next use his punishing running style Friday, when Richard Montgomery hosts Poolesville.
First-year Richard Montgomery coach Josh Klotz didn’t know much about Duffy when he took the job last January, but he learned quickly. Everyone kept telling Klotz how tough Duffy is, and Klotz believed them, though he still wanted to see for himself. The coach got another clue when Duffy gave impressive efforts during offseason workouts.
Still, it was difficult for Klotz to look past Duffy’s small frame — until fall practice.
“His demeanor just suddenly changed,” Klotz said. “As soon as the pads went on, he became an animal.”
Duffy said he has to play that way just to hold up at his size. He actually considered giving up football after middle school because the high school players looked too big.
But former Richard Montgomery coach Neal Owens convinced him to join the high school program, and Duffy became a starting linebacker/safety as a junior.
Before switching Duffy’s focus to offense, Klotz showed Duffy video of all the plays he whiffed due to being overly aggressive.
“I would come up and hit someone and know I was blowing coverage if someone gets behind me, but I just had that thirst to get that contact, just to hit somebody,” Duffy said. “At running back, of course, now I’m trying not to get hit, but I still sometimes just want to lower my shoulder and get that contact.”
Klotz said he believes Duffy could play Division III football if he wanted, but Duffy is set on majoring in engineering at a bigger school, in part, because engineering can be just as competitive as football.
And he believes he’s ready.
“People doubt you, and you have to show them what you’re made of,” Duffy said.