Five high-profile high school football head coaching positions have opened at private schools throughout Southern California since the end of the regular season. Crespi, JSerra, Mater Dei, Servite, and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame will all be hiring new soccer coaches over the next few months. Other big schools might be looking for new coaches soon too, stay tuned…
So who can fill some of these positions? Here are my thoughts.
A few coaches I’ve spoken to have told me that they’re happy with their current programs and are pretty confident they’ll stay. But remember: everyone has a price.
If one of these private schools made an offer to a coach with **Don Vito Corleone voice** that he couldn’t refuse, the coach would leave.
So when rumors are circulated, never say never until hiring has taken place.
Some of the coaches I spoke to have been approached for these positions but would prefer not to have their name mentioned in the press as it may create instability at their current school.
One manager told me he lost several transfers when his name was linked to a school in the past. Out of respect for these coaches, I will not mention their names.
For obvious reasons, this is the largest job available. Mater Dei is consistent in the mythical national title hunt and the school will want to stay on top with whoever they join after Bruce Rollinson.
Eric Sondheimer of the LA Times previously wrote a story featuring his candidates for the job, which is available here. The three names from the story that I would pay the most attention to are lenny vandermade, Taylor Kelly and Chris Ward.
OC Register’s Steve Fryer first reported in May that Vandermade was interested in coaching with Mater Dei.
Vandermade graduated from Mater Dei and went on to play college ball at USC under Pete Carroll. The ex-offensive lineman spent 10 years on the USC coaching support staff after retiring from his playing days, most recently as an offensive quality control analyst. Vandermade was listed in USC’s media guide earlier in the season, but is no longer on the team’s official roster. Why he left the program is unclear.
Before coaching at USC, Vandermade was the offensive coordinator at Santa Margarita. He’s still close to Rollinson, too. If the Mater Dei administration wants to hire an alum, Vandermade would make a lot of sense.
Kelly is the current offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Mater Dei. He is also the biomechanics instructor for 3DQB, one of the nation’s premier training groups for quarterbacks. Kelly expertly trained current Monarchs quarterback Elijah Brown and works with many other elite quarterbacks. He’s young, but think of him as a Mike McDaniel-type high school coach—inexperienced as a Head Boy, but very capable. Kelly graduated from Eagle High School in Idaho in 2010.
Ward graduated from Mater Dei and went on to play at UCLA. He coached Mater Dei during the unbeaten 2017 season and is now with Orange Lutheran. He’s very popular and another name that makes sense if the Mater Dei administration wants to bring in an alum. Similar to Kelly, Ward also works at his own position-specific training facility, ALLEGIANCE ATHLETICS, working on fine-tuning the technical aspect of offensive line play. Many top offensive linemen recruits worked with Ward.
If the Mater Dei administration thinks outside the box with an attitude, here’s my pick: Patrick Walsch from San Mateo-Serra High School.
Walsh has been training with Serra since he was 26. He is the most successful coach in the history of the program and is incredibly well respected in the football coaching community. Outside of an Open Division state championship, Walsh has won everything there is to win at Serra. Is he maybe looking for a new challenge? It is possible.
If Mater Dei were open to an outsider and chose to bring Walsh in for an interview, he would be the kind of coaching candidate who would walk out of the interview with a job offer. He is the real deal.
SHERMAN OAKS NOTRE DAME
I do not know if Troy Thomas wants to train next season after his last stint with Servite, but if he does, the Notre Dame administration should make a game for him. I think Thomas would be a fantastic hire.
Forget last season’s 1-9 mark at Servite. The year before, Thomas led the brothers to the Division 1 Southern Section championship game after defeating St. John Bosco in the semifinals. He has also won two Pac-5 titles in his coaching career. Gamers love playing for Thomas and he has a resume that should excite the Notre Dame administrator.
One head coach said of Notre Dame, “This is the school in the valley that, if they really try, could be at the top.”
I think Thomas would be the coach to take them there.
Who could replace Thomas at Servite? Santa Ana College head coach Anton Weiss is a name that makes a lot of sense. White played at the University of Utah under Urban Meyer and was a senior captain in 2003. Before coaching at Santa Ana College, White flipped Buena Park High School’s football program and won a league title in 2016. White is well connected in Orange County football circles and is held in high esteem in the community.
There are also rumors of interest between Servite and Deva Thomas, St. Pius X – The current head coach of St. Matthias Academy (more about him later).
It’s clear the JSerra administration is swinging for the fences with their next football lease. Several high profile coaches have been approached regarding the Lions Football Coach job posting.
Here’s one of the names I hear the most: Paul Cronin.
Cronin previously coached at Cardinal Newman and Windsor in Northern California, winning 222 games at the schools. He is well respected and has been approached by private schools in Southern California. Harold Abend, executive editor of Prep2Prep, called Cronin “an educator we consider the greatest high school football coach in the history of the redwood empire” in a March article.
Another name that might make sense here is Marin Catholic Mazi moayed.
One coach said of Moayed: “I think Mazi is one of the best coaches in the state, if not the nation. What he did with what he had during his tenure is pretty incredible. Year after year, Marin Catholic is in CIF Championship Games. The consistency he had was incredible.”
Both Deva Thomas and Matt Villasenor was able to win at Crespi.
In three seasons, Thomas has led St. Pius X – St. Matthias Academy from the Division 14 Southern Section playoffs to the Division 3 playoffs. He is a proven program builder and his kids love to play for him. A teacher at PMA told me that he also regularly asks her about his players’ grades. Thomas is a coach who really cares. He has done more than enough to warrant consideration for the open Crespi job. He would be a home worker.
Villaseñor is currently receiver coach at Bishop Amat. He also has head coaching experience from his days at LA Wilson and Sierra Vista. Wherever Villaseñor goes, there is instant enthusiasm and the team wins. Villaseñor is also linked to many college coaches, making him an attractive choice for players hoping to be recruited. Hiring Villaseñor at Crespi would shake up the Angelus League.