Q & A with El Rancho HC Adrian Medrano

El Rancho HC Adrian Medrano (right) with former High School head coach and current assistant Greg Setlich.

Adrian Medrano has been the head coach at his alma mater El Rancho for the last four years. Prior to that he was the HC at Bonita. Recently I had the opportunity to have a Q & A with him.

Q: How are you, your coaching staff and players coping with this current pandemic?
A: I’m doing well and I hope you are too; thank you for asking. Working from home is much different and I miss seeing our players and coaches daily. We would be finishing up our last few practices of spring ball right now if we would have been on schedule. I definitely miss it but I must say that I’m fortunate to be able to spend more time with my wife and my 2 young daughters (2 years old & 4 months old). The current COVID crisis has helped me put things in their proper perspective. While my family is healthy and well, I’m saddened to know that there are others who are currently suffering whether it be from a health or economic standpoint. As a coaching staff, we communicate regularly. I’m fortunate to have a whole bunch of grinders on staff who love football, our players, and El Rancho. We have had both staff and player meetings via Zoom during this time. We’ve had a “virtual spring ball” the last few weeks. Our young receivers coach guides our players through workouts twice a week and our entire staff has offensive and defensive meetings with position group breakout sessions. We do this so we can get a head start on our installation plan, help keep our players stay in shape, and most importantly provide support and connect with them during this time.

Q: When you played at El Rancho what position or positions did you play?
A: I was primarily a defensive player as a linebacker. Every once in a while I posed as a fullback on offense.

Q: Did you play football after high school?
A: After high school I played at the University of La Verne for 4 years and it was an absolutely great experience.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a high school football coach?
A: I was finishing up my senior year of college and getting ready for the next chapter of my life. It was tough because for the first time, I didn’t have a football season to prepare for or look forward to. I was a journalism major and wrote part time for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and also worked at the copy desk a few nights a week answering phones. Doug Spoon, the sports editor, let me know that a position as a copy editor would be open for me once I graduated. I also had the possibility of an entry level intern position at Fox Sports with a college teammate of mine. However, Bill Zernickow, who was my defensive coordinator and position coach during my sophomore and junior years at ULV called me and asked if I’d be interested in helping him coach linebackers at San Dimas HS. I met with him to discuss the possibility and all of a sudden a couple of days later I was running some drills during 6th period football. It didn’t take very long for me to realize that this is what I wanted to do. A couple of weeks later, I took the CBEST test and once I graduated college, I was working as a substitute teacher and football coach.

Q: Was it always a goal of yours to coach at your alma mater?
A: El Rancho High School has always been very special to me. I didn’t go to NFL or college games growing up, but I fell in love with football by going to games at Don Memorial Stadium with my dad when I was 7 years old. I remember hearing the voice of our legendary announcer Armie Briones over the loud speaker and watching the teams of Dick Shelko and Jim Patricio come out and play with so much passion. There was something magnificent about it and I knew that I wanted to be a Don and be a part of the Blue Pride tradition. But if I’m being completely honest, I did not foresee myself being the head coach of my alma mater up until the opportunity came in 2016.

Q: How did the Bonita HC job prepare you for El Rancho and Possibly other jobs in the future?
A: I had always kept up with El Rancho football and had always rooted for the Dons, however, I was focused on the job that I was doing which is what I would recommend to anyone. You always want to make the big time where you are. I don’t care if you’re the head coach of a Trinity League team or the left-footed kickers coach for a Division 14 Frosh team; you want to make sure that you treat your job as big time and as if it’s the only job in the world that matters because that’s what the kids and the program you are working for deserve. No matter how detailed of an answer I give here, there’s no way I can do Bonita HS and my former players enough justice. I spent a ton of hours working during my time at Bonita and I like to tell myself that I did good things for the program both as an Assistant Coach and Head Coach; but the truth of the matter is that Bonita did far more for me than I ever did for it. I learned the importance of having a cohesive coaching staff. I was very fortunate to pretty much keep the same staff from Coach Podley my 1st year as HC (including Podley himself), but after the 1st year we had to replace everyone except our DC Ray Medina and our OLB coach Dave Flores and I ended up calling the offense for the 1st time in my coaching career. I quickly learned that it’s important to surround yourself with people who know more than you do. I learned that a coach needs to know what his own personal set of values are and what his identity is. Kids crave structure, discipline, and guidance, and the only way for a leader to provide that for them is to know himself first. You cannot try and be someone you’re not. Football coaches are great innovators, but there are far too many times someone takes a visit to the “good idea fairy” and wants to try something that doesn’t fit the identity or value set of the coach. This will ultimately lead to a lack of player buy-in. There are a thousand ways to skin a cat and there isn’t some kind of magic, one size fits all, way to run a program. While it’s important to learn and be open, it’s even more important that the things we implement fit our values. This includes all facets of a program (fundraising, uniforms, discipline, community outreach, X’s & O’s, player evaluation, off-season workouts, etc.).

Q: What was your first coaching job?
A: If we want to get real technical, I coached Powderpuff football my Junior year at El Rancho…. And we won!!! During the summer of 2004, I helped out with the ER Freshmen team that was coached by Jim Arellanes. Coaching linebackers for the 2006 San Dimas team was my 1st full year of coaching.

Q: What coach had the biggest influence on you and why?
A: Too many to say just one. I was fortunate to be coached by Tony Gonzalez, a Pico Rivera legend, for 4 years when I was in youth football. Coach Gonzalez is currently our running backs coach at ER. In High School, I played for both Greg Setlich and Willie Reyna. Each had a positive impact on me. Coach Setlich and I had a great relationship and continued it to this day as he’s our Assistant Head Coach. Coach Reyna was the HC my Sr. year and he, along with Brian Zavala (our DC) were influential in me wanting to play football in college. My college coach was a man by the name of Don Morel. I believe that Coach Morel has influenced a lot of high school coaches in Southern California. Several of my teammates at ULV are coaches today. I’ll always be grateful for Coach Zernickow giving me my first opportunity and I learned a lot from him. Coach Z is creative as a coach there is. I’ve also learned the importance of work-ethic and film breakdown from Ray Medina. I think if you look up “Coach” in the dictionary you might find a picture of Coach Medina. But it would be fair to say that Coach Podley had the biggest impact, particularly when it comes to how I approach my coaching. He’s a man who has old-school values and morals, but was never out of touch with the players and was also ahead of the curve when it came to modern trends in football. He found various ways to motivate players. There was never a stone unturned with Coach Podley and his teams were always so diligently prepared. I greatly value both his mentorship and friendship.

Q: Last year El Rancho went 9-3 overall and advanced to the second round of the CIF Division 11 playoffs. How does this year’s squad look?
A: We’re small but we make up for it by being slow and poorly coached!!! All kidding aside, we’re young. We return only 3 players in Jorge Villa, Andrew Bencomo, and Angel Diaz who had significant playing time on defense and only 1 player in Villa who had significant playing time on offense. Villa really stood out for us on defense and made big plays last year and Bencomo was a steady player for us on the D-Line. Diaz started as a Freshmen and will only get better next year and the following years. Our JV team went 8-2 and had a share of the JV DRL title so there’s definitely some potential there. I like that our kids seem to have confidence in the way we do things at The Ranch. They’re a resilient bunch and a very pleasant group which is why I miss them and am looking forward to eventually getting back out there with those guys.

Q: Who are the 5 best players you have coached?
A: 1- Reggie Turner, Bonita: Reggie was an all-around great player as a Running Back and Linebacker. There were a few times he put the team on his shoulders and led us to wins. I can remember a win vs. West Covina where he seemingly scored every time he touched the ball and also took a pick to the house. I was very fortunate to have great running backs at Bonita. After Reggie graduated, we had Jake Payton and Angel Verdugo who were also absolute studs. To be fair to them, they’re right up there with Reggie as running backs. Looking back, I can’t help but realize how good I had it as a young coach.

2- Danny Gelalich, Bonita: As great of a free safety as Danny was, he was possibly an even better receiver. There were times we struggled offensively and the desperate play call would be to throw a fade up to Danny and he rarely disappointed. He’s playing baseball now at BYU and is a very positive member of the LDS community along with his older brothers Jeff and Matt.

3- Andrew Tarango, El Rancho: T is everything you want in a high school player in terms of attitude, work ethic, and leadership. One of the highest character young men I have ever had the pleasure of coaching.

4- Chris Andrade, El Rancho: The ultimate underdog. Chris broke the school passing record this past year when he threw for over 3,000 yards. His presence and command of the offense was so impressive. He played with such a high level of confidence, poise, and determination.

5- Gabriel Huerta- El Rancho: Gabriel broke the school receiving record in 2016. He just had a second gear to him. He started on both sides of the ball for us and never came off the field. There was a certain type of toughness about him that made him great.

Others: Bonita: Tanner Diebold, Thomas Loy, Christian McQueen, BJ McLaurin, DJ Theard, El Rancho: Roman Rojas, Brandon Carmona, Alex Velasquez, Adam Chandler, Ryan Santa Maria.

18 Comments to "Q & A with El Rancho HC Adrian Medrano"

  1. SD's Gravatar SD
    May 30, 2020 - 2:00 am | Permalink

    Wow, Medrano is disloyal! He coached some some pretty good teams at San Dimas when he was Z’s bit**! Didn’t mention any of the players there. Still mad he got fired!

  2. ER's Gravatar ER
    May 27, 2020 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Obviously going back to summer or 2014 the program had not won a playoff game in 13 years or a league title in 17, many of the best athletes from Pico looked at ER as a 2nd option. Nice try giving vinny all that credit though lol.

  3. Inconvenient Truth's Gravatar Inconvenient Truth
    May 27, 2020 - 7:40 am | Permalink

    In all sincerity, I’d like to thank commenter ER for mentioning that Millan and Aguilar had no choice but to play ball at El Rancho. When a kid’s parents are alums, the open enrollment situation obviously precludes any other option.

  4. ER's Gravatar ER
    May 26, 2020 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    You’re giving Vinny credit for importing Mark Millan and Levi Aguilar? Millan is a Pico resident with ER alum parents, he attended St Paul for 3 years, he transferred from St Paul to Salesian during his Junior year and St Paul as they typically do had a bitch fit and challenged the transfer as undue influence. Millan was going to miss his senior year, the only way for him to play his senior year was to play at his home school. Levi Aguilar was another Pico Resident with Ranch family, his father became ill and Amat was no longer a possibility financially. Vinnie Lopez had nothing to do with bringing those kids in. I give him credit for getting us that league title, but won’t ever forget how he lied to many of us 3 days before he left saying he wasn’t going anywhere when we knew it was an outright lie. Leaving a program in January is one thing, but to do it in May is an absolute disaster, that 1-9 2015 year is his!

  5. ER's Gravatar ER
    May 26, 2020 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    The B building has nothing to do with our football program! take your political crap and shove it.

  6. ?'s Gravatar ?
    May 25, 2020 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    @IT: If you are going to throw shade at ER and their fans you better have something more than one big win and then prepare for the blowback.

  7. Inconvenient Truth's Gravatar Inconvenient Truth
    May 25, 2020 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Vinnie’s unique contribution to the 2014 triumph was the importation of star senior linemen Mark Millan and Levi Aguilar, who were brought-in from St. Paul and Bishop Amat respectively. This is why Andrew Perea had pass protection and running lanes all night, and why La Serna’s ground game got stuffed.

  8. FBFan's Gravatar FBFan
    May 25, 2020 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    You guys really gonna turn a positive, cool q and a into an argument?

  9. ER Alum.'s Gravatar ER Alum.
    May 24, 2020 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Careful how you sing the praises of Lopez. Insiders well know the disaster he left behind and the real reason he got the hell out of El Rancho. A win against La Serna means nothing compared to providing a consistent program. As for Lopez dream job at Pacifica and it’s higher salary, maybe it is for him but not for Pacifica. More like a nightmare for them. 0-4 in the playoffs in 4 years. Most of them wipe outs.

  10. Lol's Gravatar Lol
    May 24, 2020 - 7:14 pm | Permalink

    That’s an absolute load of crap you can’t base your entire season on the result vs La Serna, Vinnie inherited the best freshmen class at ER in 20 years 2011 Frosh 9-1 to 2014 Seniors bowing out in the 1st round. I know you were part of that Vinnie program but they had 1 good year with a terrible playoff exit and underachieved with the likes of Joey Sanchez, Johnny Garcia, Ryan Araujo etc etc. Even if we beat Ls in 2014 they still had a deeper playoff run meanwhile we sat in the stands.

    Adrian Medrano has inherited 4 freshmen classes with records of 3-7, 2-8, 4-6, 2-8 and has 2 Quarterfinal runs and a semifinal run and it’s all been done with minimal talent. Give Medrano that 2014 squad and he wins a CIF title.

    The inconvenient truth is any coach would’ve won that 2014 League title with that group of players.

    Medrano’s program leaps and bounds stronger now than 2012-2014.

  11. Inconvenient Truth's Gravatar Inconvenient Truth
    May 24, 2020 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    @ ERunc: Can you expand on why the current coaches have “far less talent” to work with? Was the talent tree cut-down at the same time they destroyed B-building?

  12. ER Pop's Gravatar ER Pop
    May 24, 2020 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    Good riddance!

  13. ERunc's Gravatar ERunc
    May 24, 2020 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Having been witness to the days of Jim Patricio, Greg Setlich, Willie Reyna, Gene Parsons, Rick Zepeda, Vinny Lopez and now Adrian Medrano, with confidence I can tell you the program is doing more with far less talent than in all the previous 6 coaches. All this can be attributed to the hard work and determination of such a seasoned veteran staff. This year once again hardly any returners but talented underclassmen are ready to step in and prove themselves, I’m ready for the ride!

  14. Inconvenient Truth's Gravatar Inconvenient Truth
    May 23, 2020 - 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Not to throw cold water on the back-slapping here, but football success in the Whittier area is measured by how you do against La Serna. In his third year at El Rancho, Vinnie Lopez beat the Lancers. If Pico Rivera residents didn’t appreciate this, Pacifica of Garden Grove did, which is why they hired him at a higher salary.

  15. ER's Gravatar ER
    May 23, 2020 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Coach inherited a tough situation. The two previous coaches left the once proud ER football program in shambles. One coach after 3 years left the program high and dry after parlaying a zero playoff win record in his 3 seasons into what he said was his dream job in the OC. The season before Medrano, football totally imploded culminating in a 6 point loss to Pioneer and a one win season. In comes Medrano with drama unfolding at Bonita as well. There were a lot of big names bandied about that wanted the ER job but the ER alums knew who they wanted from the get go and they got him. So with the neighborhood kids he has 7 playoff appearances including a semi and quarter final in 4 years. Job well done coach.

  16. ER Pop's Gravatar ER Pop
    May 23, 2020 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Much respect for coach Medrano and his staff. He does it the right way. Does not recruit but coaches the hell out of what he’s got in his home grown talent. He brings out the best in all his players. Does not cater to players and will not tolerate prima donas. Proud that my son plays for him.

  17. Tony Gonzalez's Gravatar Tony Gonzalez
    May 23, 2020 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Coach Medrano, we as a community are extremely blessed and proud of what you have accomplished. You exude positive influence to your players and students of El El Rancho. You are our son and pride of Pico Rivera

  18. FBFan's Gravatar FBFan
    May 23, 2020 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I love that Don Morel is getting a little mention on Mid Valley!

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