According to Jack Bowman, he has found coaching nirvana. And he has found it just north of the San Diego Freeway.
Bowman is in his first season as co-coach of the Westminster High School football team.
Co- coach? You're thinking the title has as much meaning as calling a trash collector a refuse engineer. A promotion to co-coach is like the TV assistant producer who was promoted to producer only to find the producer had created a new position for himself--executive producer. Right?
Well, Jim O'Hara, the other co-coach, admits when he asked Bowman to take the job, part of the reason was to give Bowman some recognition.
"He's done such a great job for us over the years," O'Hara said. "I thought it was about time he received some credit."
And he does look over Bowman during games, literally. O'Hara coaches from the press box while Bowman is on the sideline.
More than a nice gesture, O'Hara knew Bowman's 13 years at Westminster made him more than qualified to take on half the responsibilities of a head coach. After all, Bowman's defense--he kept his responsibilities as defensive coordinator--has allowed an average of 9.6 points a game.
Bowman could not be happier. He had made no secret of his wish to become a head coach somewhere. But the situation at Westminster which he calls, "perfect," has cooled any thoughts he had about leaving.
"I'm so pleased with the way things have worked out," Bowman said.
So, what happens when it's fourth and goal and the decision has to be made to go for the touchdown or kick a field goal.
Too many cooks, etc. etc.?
"We haven't had any problems like that," Bowman said. "It always seems we usually decide in favor of whoever feels strongest at the time on what to do."
What makes Bowman, and indeed the assistant coaches at Westminster so happy is that they are allowed to coach.
"I wouldn't say we had two head coaches," Bowman said. "We have more than that. All our assistant coaches are given the same responsibility as a head coach in their particular area of expertise. Stan Clark (offensive coordinator and offensive line), Bob McAllister (special teams and quarterbacks) and Don Presby (strength coordinator and defensive line) are all head coaches.
"It's a great situation," Bowman said. "I'd be content to remain here for a long time if the situation remains the same."
If things do remain the same, then the times would seem to be-a-changin in the Sunset League. League tradition received a severe blow Friday when the Lions beat Edison, 24-14, in the league opener. It was only the second time the Lions had beaten the Chargers in 12 years. Westminster is 1-0 in the league and 4-2 overall and has a strong chance at qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1976.
Aforementioned assistant coaches are given a lot of the credit for turning things around. All are in their first season at Westminster. O'Hara got them after Principal Bob Boehme asked him what he needed to have a winning season. The Lions were 4-6 last year.
"I told him I needed a video unit, a classroom for the team, some other things and three coaches," O'Hara said.
Anyone who wants to yell fluke should consider that the Lions' four victories (Valencia, El Toro, Pacifica and Edison) have come against teams with a combined record of 17-7, with no team having more than two losses. And consider that each of those four teams was ranked in the top five of Orange County teams when they played the Lions.
"We've played hard against very good teams. Valencia, El Toro and Pacifica I think were all ranked fourth when we played them," O'Hara said. "I joked to the guys that even though Edison was only ranked fifth, they should try hard anyway."
Unhatched chickens: His team has practically clinched the Empire League title, but Mike Cochrane, boys' cross-county coach at Katella, is taking nothing for granted. Even though his team has a two-meet lead over its closest rival, Cochrane knows his team must place at least fourth in the Empire League championships Nov. 1 at Yorba Regional Park, to win the title.
Which shouldn't be too difficult. The Knights are 7-0 in league. But Cochrane, who has coached boys' cross-country and track and field at Katella for seven years, remembers five years ago, under similar circumstances, when a league title seemed within reach and disaster stepped in.
"We had an outstanding senior in Brad Cleary (now at Cal Poly Pomona) and three good juniors in 1980," Cochrane said. "We were undefeated going into our last dual meet (against Loara) and one of the juniors got injured. We lost the meet 29-27. Consequently El Dorado beat us in the finals and won the league championship.
"I don't count on anything anymore until it's in my pocket," he said. Cochrane isn't worried about this season's team letting down in the finals with their big-meet lead.