New San Ramon Valley High football coach Aaron Becker sounded eager to turn the page and focus on the upcoming 2014 season.
"We're working on our playbooks and getting ready to take the field for spring practice in about 3½ or four weeks," Becker said last week.
Becker was officially hired as Wolves head coach in February. He became the interim coach under highly unusual circumstances after former coach Mark Kessler was fired for an undisclosed reason before the team opened the North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Kessler remains a teacher at the school.
Becker was the interim coach when San Ramon Valley beat San Leandro 42-24 in the first round of the NCS Division I playoffs last season, but lost 31-17 against California in the quarterfinals.
Becker, a physical education teacher at San Ramon Valley, seems like a natural choice to head the program. A former Wolves quarterback in the early 1990s, he has run a dynamic offense and emphasizes developing strong student-athletes. The Wolves averaged 37 points a game last season, including scoring 36 against state power Folsom.
Here are some questions for Becker.
Has it been a smooth transition for you?
"Yeah, when you know all the kids it makes it easy, and you're on campus it makes it easy. So as far as that goes, that's been pretty seamless."
Considering the awkwardness of how things went in the program, can you talk about what you've been through?
"We're just moving forward. We're not even gonna reflect on that or even discuss it. It's the 2014 season."
Your connection with the school must be really strong; it's kind of in your heart.
"Yeah, you're an alum and you're a teacher and you're a coach, it's just a special place. It's always going to be dear to my heart because it meant so much to me as a young man, and you want to give back and, hopefully, make the same impression on others."
Are you going to change anything about how the team's run?
"To be determined. I can't even say, totally. It's just going to be me coaching as I coach, and go from there. In terms of what we're going to do different, I don't even know where to start with that one."
So, you're still sorting things out about what your plan's going to be?
"In terms of as a football program, we're still gonna push to try to develop young men and good citizens and good student-athletes the community can be proud of. That's our No. 1 objective, and then the football is the icing on the cake. If we can do that and give the kids positive experience, and if they can have a good time and can look back fondly, that's what we're after, and we'll win our share of games along the way if we do those things correctly. As far as X's and O's, a lot of that is based on what the kids are capable of doing and where our talents lie from one year to the next."
Monte Vista coach Craig Bergman endorsed you during the hiring process. Are you friends?
"Craig's always been supportive of me. Craig's always been a really nice guy to me, and I've learned a lot just by watching his teams over the years. I've been a fan of his for a long time and felt that they do good stuff."
What's it like stepping into a league of savvy veteran head coaches?
"I'm the youngster. You try to surround yourself with good people and surround yourself with maybe some veterans in assistant coaching positions that you can lean on, and also lean on some people that you know, possibly, in other sports. But I'm definitely the youngster, and I'm going against some real quality coaches, and that's a fact."
Do you have some good players coming back?
"I'm very confident in what we're returning in the senior class, and I'm also very confident in what we're bringing up in our junior class. Our junior class has been real strong for two years, and our senior group has had their fair share off success too. We're looking forward to it. We think it's going to be a good mix."
MATS FIND MOJO: Remember the Granada baseball team that went 24-2 last season, including opening the season with 20 straight wins? Well, the current Matadors, a less-experienced bunch, needed a little more time to find its Mat Mojo in EBAL play. But find it, they did. Granada (14-6, 4-6 EBAL) entered the week riding a six-game winning streak overall, including three straight EBAL victories after a 1-6 start. The record was a little deceiving, though. In the first half of league play, they lost twice by a run, once by two and once by three. Now, they look like a team you don't want to meet in the first round of NCS.