The name Mike Olgy has become synonymous with Buena High football. A 1967 graduate and the current defensive coordinator, Olgy will do anything for his beloved Bulldogs.
He'll dig into the trenches and mix with linemen during practice.
He'll recite poetry.
He'll even step down as head coach, which he did before this season.
After 6 mediocre years at the helm, Olgy deferred to Rick Scott. The move surprised many, but not for its unmistakable logic. The offensive-minded Scott had crafted an explosive passing attack during 4 years at Hart High. Olgy, meanwhile, fielded fine defensive teams even during losing seasons at Buena.
The result is the well-balanced pack of Bulldogs that will visit Canyon on Friday night at 7:30 for a Division II semifinal. Buena (10-2) is the only team in the county still playing and this is the first time the Bulldogs have advanced to the semifinals.
"Mike Olgy made a difficult decision," Oxnard Coach Jack Davis said. "He gave up his job with all those players coming back and accepted a lesser position. I admire him for that. I wouldn't have done it."
Buena's defense is dominated by seniors, all of whom played last year for Mike Olgy, head coach, and this year for Mike Olgy, assistant coach.
"He is a better coach this year. It's almost like we have two head coaches," said Matt Biesecker, a senior who plays offensive guard and nose guard.
Olgy, who also coaches the offensive line, devises the defensive game plan and calls defensive alignments during games. He also performed those duties as head coach, so the most important difference is what he doesn't do--call the offensive plays.
"Coach Olgy likes defense," said Tom Lunsford, a senior defensive back who leads the team with 8 interceptions. "It takes a lot of pressure off of him now that he just has to worry about the defense."
Olgy, who along with Scott and Steve McFadden form perhaps the county's only 3-man coaching staff, is the first to admit that he didn't excel at certain responsibilities that a head coach must address.
"I'm not a real good PR man. Dealing with the press and booster club distracted from my coaching," Olgy said. "Rick does those things well. We are a perfect match."
Another fine mesh is the 11 defensive starters. None can be described as a dominant player, yet they compose a unit that has dominated in recent weeks. Several players, including Biesecker, start on offense and defense.
"We don't really have an aggressive, attacking defense," Scott said. "We're more of a dog pack. We surround ballcarriers and yap at their heels."
Among the top dogs are defensive ends Mark Brondos and Steve Brooks, who also play offensive tackle and tight end, respectively. Defensive tackles Eric Stadler and John Simpson see action on the offensive line as well.
Buena's linebackers--Jason Phipps, Richard Harris and Dan White--each have nearly identical totals of tackles. Harris, the only junior starter, is also the fullback.
Cornerback Jim Collins, who Scott points to as the team's best college prospect, holds school records as a receiver. Lunsford, Rob Atkins and George Kienle are the other members of the secondary.
"There is no weak link," Olgy said. "Our defense is a bunch of average athletes who play very well together. I'd call it a no-risk defense. We don't stunt all over the place. We bend but don't break."
Muir came after Buena with superior athletes last week, but the Bulldogs proved more resilient in a 7-6 victory. And Buena shut out Thousand Oaks in the second half of a 19-14 first-round victory 2 weeks ago.
Olgy inspired his charges before the Muir game with a reading of Manfred Winkler's poem, "All in a State of Mind."
"The theme was basically that the mind is a powerful weapon and you've got to have something to grab onto," Olgy said.
And the Bulldogs put poetry into motion, grabbing onto Muir ballcarriers and not letting go. Muir drove inside the Buena 20 yard-line 7 times, but scored only on a kickoff return.
Buena has been stubborn on several occasions when an opponent drives near the goal line. "We've made a lot of goal-line stands," Olgy said, "and with each one, our confidence grows."
Against Thousand Oaks in the second game of the season, the Bulldogs stopped the Lancers on fourth and goal from the 2 in the final seconds to preserve a 12-9 victory.
Against cross-town rival Ventura, in a key Channel League contest, Buena held fast in the fourth quarter to sneak away with a 14-12 win.
And against Oxnard in a 35-15 victory that propelled the Bulldogs into the playoffs, the Buena defense held after Oxnard recovered a fumble on the Bulldog 20. Oxnard had just returned an interception for a score to cut Buena's lead to 20-7, and another score would have changed the momentum, perhaps for good.
Some of the players attribute the series of clutch performances to a higher force than Olgy or Scott.
"Our secret in tough times is praying out loud right on the field," said Lunsford, who has been nicknamed "Reverend" by the coaches. "Once on fourth and goal we got a little prayer going and it worked.
"Now we hold hands in the huddle or put our arms around one another and start shouting our prayers."
To Brooks, the defensive end, praying and playing have something in common. "It's halfway between a joke and being serious," he said. "But more than anything, it keeps us together when situations get tough."
As the situation should get tough against Canyon (10-2), a team that routinely gave Scott fits when he was coach at Hart. Canyon defeated Hart 3 times in 4 meetings during Scott's tenure.
But this time, the coach will be accompanied by Olgy and that born-again Bulldog defense.