EDITOR'S NOTE--Ever wonder what a football coach actually does during the season? And why good coaches like Dick Vermeil and John Madden retire from Super Bowl teams, citing stress and "burnout?"
St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey recently finished its football season with an 8-3-1 record, winning the Camino Real League title and advancing to the Northwestern Conference quarterfinals.
It was 26-year-old Bill Seward's third year as head coach and he decided during the season that this would be his last year coaching. Seward had a three-year record of 23-11-2 and took the Vikings to CIF semifinals in his first season despite being the youngest head coach in the CIF.
Though their first game this year was after Labor Day, Seward explains that the season began in January, when players (and coaches) lifted weights at 6:15 a.m., and continued through spring drills and summer passing leagues.
A former star lineman at Notre Dame High in Encino, Seward says his weight increased from 185 pounds to nearly 220 during the season and he often functioned on four hours' sleep.
Seward, who was a communications major at Loyola Marymount University, teaches communications at St. Bernard and is also a professional sports broadcaster. At The Times' request, he agreed to keep a diary of the past season.
This is Seward's story, as well as a game-by-game account of the Vikings' season. Seward likens it to a book by former pro football player Dave Meggysey , "Out of My League." Seward suggests it be called "Out of My Mind."
September, 1984--About to start the football season. . . .
To be honest I don't know what kind of team we're going to be. We've tried to make ourselves a passing offense. We did a lot of blitzing last year, and we ran the ball a lot. This year I think we're gonna steady ourselves defensively, if we can. I think our weak points . . . our offensive line isn't very experienced. Defensively we don't have any linebackers right now with any experience. There are four people trying for the job, the inside backers at least, and none of them have played there before. And none of them are real big.
I don't know how much runnin' and shootin' we're gonna do because it's predicated on what our offensive line does. Offensively that's the most important part, that offensive line. The offensive line coach is Ray Gonzales, and he's been working with them since February or March. I think our strength levels are pretty good. We don't have any real monsters, no 400-pound bench pressers, but a lot of guys in the 300-pound area.
Duke Dulgarian is the offensive coordinator, has been for a couple years. We're gonna put the ball up, we hope.
Defensively we've got Brian Buckley, who I went to high school with and he's gonna coach the linebackers. Through the practices so far it's a tremendous boost to our coaching staff. He's the only guy on the staff that has played some college ball, and I think he has a real understanding of what is going on. And most importantly he's a good guy, in the sense he respects the kids, and that's important. There's a lot of guys who know football but aren't sure what they're doing when it comes to coaching and that's a big part of it, the way you relate to the individuals you have.
Defensively we should be pretty good up front. We've got a couple returning tackles, Eric Marrero and Louis Calderon.
We don't have a lot of depth. If we have one thing, it's character. I think this is a real good group. Hard working, not a lot of problems. I think we've weeded out the individuals who really didn't want to play football for us. Believe me, it's a lot of work . . . it's a pretty intense program, I guess. We try not to look at it that way. We don't do a whole lot in the afternoon. We shied away from a heavy spring practice schedule. Do things in the morning, I think that gives 'em a sense of when the bell rings after school they're done. They can go home, go to the doctor, the dentist, wherever it is they have to go and I think it alleviates a lot of the problems a coach has to go through because they are 15, 16, 17 years old and they do have a lot of things to do. A lot of them like to work so we give them a chance to do that by working out in the morning.
Our first opponent, Culver City . . . I think it'll answer a lot of questions for us. We beat them last year in the last couple seconds on a Neal Gervais field goal, 16-14. The year before that we beat them in the (CIF) quarterfinals, 23-6. That was my first year as a head coach. In fact the first game of the season we played them, and they beat us 12-7. So all the games we've played with the exception of that quarterfinal have been close games. They've all been real hard fought.
The first game is important in that it establishes something for you. If (you don't win) then you have to look to the week after. I don't think anybody likes that. Be nice to get on a roll. We won our first eight games last year then we dropped our last three.