Q: How are you, Your coaching staff and players coping with this current pandemic?
A: Overall I would say very well under the circumstances. We have treated it like virtual spring practice in that we meet and install with our players 4 days a week as a team and in offensive and defensive position meetings. We spent some money and bought a cloud based playbook install system as well as a team communications platform. These things have really helped us be organized as a team and a staff. I am really proud of our team and how they have attacked the distance learning as well as the different mode of football instruction. I actually think this has brought us together as a team. My staff has done an incredible job of creating new and innovative ways of installing our scheme in the hopes that we have a mental edge once we get back on the field.
Q: Where did you Play HS Football and what position?
A: Interesting thing is that I did not play High School football. I went to St. Francis HS in La Canada and was a baseball player. I had always had a passion for football but I just never played. My bother Brad (played at Arcadia / Colorado / NFL) messes with me all the time and says “Mom wouldn’t let you play”.
Q: Did You play football after high school?
A: I played baseball at Saint Marys College for 1 season then transferred to Loyola Marymount and finished my education.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a High School football coach?
A: When I graduated from LMU my brother was a senior at Arcadia HS. I walked into Doug Smiths office at Arcadia and told him I wanted to be a coach and asked if he needed any volunteers. I had been away from home for 5 years so this was a way to reconnect with my younger brother. He has me film Spring practice from a rickety old scaffold and I was hooked after the first practice. I initially wanted to get to the Div. 1 level but after 6 years of coaching Junior College and 3 seasons at the Univ.of La Verne I realized it was not the best path with a young family. Mike Moschetti and I have been friends for a long time and in 2010 he hired me as an assistant and it was that year that I realized being a head HS coach and teacher was what I wanted to do.
Q: How long do you want to coach and do you have aspirations to coach at a higher level?
A: I love to coach, I have no idea how long I want to be out there. My wife jokes with me and says I will be on a sideline forever. I don’t know about that, I can tell you I enjoy being a part of the development of high school age kids. Making an impact on their lives and helping them reach goals they never thought they could reach is pretty powerful. I also love the X and O chess game that football is, the competition keeps us young. I do have dreams of coaching at a higher level, I think that if you do not have dreams and goals you are going to settle and become lazy. However, I am also a realist coaching is becoming a young man’s game. Years ago I was one of those guys. Today I have a son that plays college football, a daughter who will graduate from HS in 2021 and an 8 year old son. Coaching High School football allows me to watch my
son on Saturday, see my daughter cheer on bye weeks and coach my youngest sons baseball team. So I believe I am in the right spot at the right time and I love working with these kids every day.
Q: What coach had the biggest influence on you and why?
A: John Rome (recently retired head coach at Glendale College) In 1996 coach Rome, then the head coach at Citrus College, took a chance on a guy that had never played football and whose only experience was 2 years as a volunteer High School assistant. The 9 years I spent coaching with him at Citrus and then again at Glendale shaped the type of coach I became. He taught me a lot about the schemes of offensive football but the biggest impact was on how he treated the players. It was all about the team, and the players, none of it was about him or what he got out of it if they won or lost. It was about helping them become better players, but more than that it was about making them better people. He talked about it all the time, he wanted his players to be better fathers, employees, employers etc. Coach Rome is where my philosophy of being UNCOMMON was born. He forced me to try and be better today than I was yesterday as a coach and that is what he expected from the players as well.
Q: What was your first job in coaching?
A: I was a volunteer sophomore football assistant at Arcadia HS. I also filmed varsity practice and helped on Friday in the press box, lift or crows nest. That first job was so important because it showed me just how much went into developing a good football team. We had a great group that year, beat Downey in the first round and lost to a Petros Papadakis led Peninsula team. Unfortunately, I was only there 1 season as Coach Smith left and Jon Dimalante came in as the new head coach.
Q: In your opinion will there be a season this year and if so what will it look like? Will it be abbreviated?
A: With some of the recent developments in Indiana and Texas, both setting dates to restart, I do believe there will be a season, as far as how it looks that is above my pay grade. I do not believe it will be abbreviated, however, I do think that it could be moved to later in the fall or early winter. But that is just me speculating. Quite a bit hinges on what happens with these other sports leagues, colleges and HS in other states that are starting to increase activity. It is a trickle down, the NFL has taken the lead, as it should, when it comes to football, and I think colleges are beginning to set schedules to return. My son plays at the University of Colorado and he goes back next week. I also think there is no reason to make a decision this far out. I appreciate that the Southern Section has been patient, there is a lot on the line
and a lot of young people’s futures are being affected. We are learning new things everyday about the virus and who it affects the most. I do believe, and have put it on twitter, that we are going to need to learn to live with this virus as we have so many others. I know there are many great scientists that are trying to find a vaccine but that is not a guarantee and locking down until there is one could be very detrimental to the development of our young people.
Q: Last year Mayfair won the Suburban League at 3-0, went 5-6 overall and fell in the 1st round of the Division 5 playoffs, to Chino Hills. How does this year’s team Look?
A: I really like this year’s team. Our players and staff learned a lot last season. Our team was very talented and I was not shy about letting people know that. However, at times we did not play as a team and that led to a disappointing 5-6 season. This group has taken the lessons learned from last year and worked hard to ensure we have a more cohesive group. They have kind of adopted the PJ Fleck (HC at Minnesota) definition of FAMILY. Forget About Me I Love You. We return a solid group of players that have seen success and frustration so in my opinion that leads to quality leadership. That leadership is being displayed during the shutdown. We have a 95% attendance rate at our team and position meetings and our players are holding each other accountable for completing workouts and assignments it has been fun to watch. My staff and I really look forward to getting back out there and working on the physical side of the game because these guys have done a great job with the mental side of football.
Q: Who are the top 5 players you have coached? Coached Against?
A: Top 5 I have Coached
1. Chris Adimora- DB/WR Mayfair – currently Safety at The University of Texas- Chris has all the tools and drive to be great. He is a great player but he is also a great kid and loves the game. His physical dominance in the secondary was awesome to watch every day.
2. Ryan Hunley TB Bellflower – Ryan was the best pure Zone running back I have coached so far. His vision and speed made him elite. I remember him and Rashaad Penny (Norwalk) dueling one night at Excelsior. I gave it to Ryan 45 Times for over 350 and Rashaad did the same thing for Norwalk it was incredible to watch.
3. Semaj Verner DB Mayfair- Semaj signed with Boise state back in December turning down quite a few Pac 12 teams. That is what makes Semaj unique he is his own kid and is very comfortable in his skin. He is tall and smooth and very athletic. It has been special to have him and Chris in the secondary back to back years. But what makes Semaj’s story so special is that he was forced to sit his entire junior season, but he never missed a practice or an opportunity to get better. He had an excuse to quit or move on but he made the decision to fight and it clearly paid off for him.
4. Isaiah Jackson Qb Mayfair- I cannot say enough about Isaiah. A lot of people have no idea who he is but he is the reason for our continued success at Mayfair. He was the QB my first year and he may be the most important person I sold on my vision for the program. As a player he throws the best deep ball I have ever seen. If he was 6’1 you would have seen him playing power 5 football but he was 5’10 and ended up going JC then NAIA in Nebraska. He just graduated and will be joining our staff this fall.
5. Gavin Reed WR Citrus College/Charter Oak HS 1995 (Boise St)- Gavin was an incredible WR who did everything well. Was probably the best blocking WR I have ever coached. He went on to be a RB at Boise St.
5 That I have Coached Against
1. Rashaad Penny RB Norwalk- This young man was an absolute freak. He was fun to watch and a nightmare to play against. I think in 3 years vs bellflower he had 1000 yds rushing in 3 games.
2. Elijah Hicks WR/DB La Mirada- Elijah was a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. He was a great cover guy who was not afraid to lay the hat. He was also able to dominate a game offensively as a WR.
3. Sei J Lauago RB La Mirada- This young man was the hardest working kid on the field I have ever seen. His legs never stopped moving and he was impossible to get to the ground.
4 and 5 Steve Smith WR Santa Monica College and Chad (Ocho Cinco) Johnson – Santa Monica College – These guys played together at Santa Monica when I was at Citrus. Wow, were they incredible to watch. I remember us sitting in a staff meeting breaking them down and Coach Rome said pay attention these dudes will be playing on Sundays.