As athletic director of Bishop Montgomery High, Steve Carroll does a good job of promoting the school's attractive features. He speaks of the rigorous academic environment, the emphasis on discipline and the well-rounded sports program.
Lately, though, he has fought an uphill battle on the athletic front.
Since the beginning of the year, Bishop Montgomery's weight room has been burglarized of at least $6,000 in equipment, 11 projected football starters have transferred and the basketball coach has resigned.
"We've had some problems, without a doubt," Carroll said. "But I think our reputation speaks for itself. If a kid wants to get the best education he can and the best things athletically, he'll consider our school."
But how will the school's recent problems affect athletics?
Bishop Montgomery, struggling to stay afloat in the competitive waters of the Angelus League, suffered its latest setback Monday when basketball Coach Tony Carter resigned after one season. His replacement will become the sixth basketball coach at the school in five years.
Carroll hopes to find a new coach within three weeks.
Replacing the losses incurred by the football team may be more difficult.
Since Carroll was named football coach earlier this year, the Knights have lost 11 projected starters to other schools. Included in that group are three who now attend Banning, most notably All-Angelus League wide receiver Sheldon Butler and quarterback Marty Garcia.
Banning Coach Joe Dominguez says Butler, a junior, has a good chance of starting for the Pilots next season and Garcia, a sophomore, will probably back up returning All-Pacific League quarterback John Ma'ae.
Obviously, those are major losses for Bishop Montgomery, which has never qualified for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs from the Angelus League.
Instead of dwelling on the losses, however, Carroll is determined to win with the remaining players.
"We've taken our lumps, but the kids we have now are fantastic," he said. "I don't know if we're going to win the league title, but we're going to have a successful year one way or another. The kids are hard workers."
Carroll says the players who transferred left for a variety of reasons.
"We lost (some) kids to academics, four or five to discipline problems and three or four because they have moved on to what they think are greener pastures," said the native Texan. "I was brought up in another age, I never thought about transferring schools. Down around here, it's rampant.
"If a kid doesn't like the school or the coach, he can decide he wants to go somewhere else. I'm not in favor of it at all."
Sources said Carroll, who succeeded Andy Szabatura as football coach after last season, alienated some players by implementing mandatory weightlifting for all levels. Carroll said mandatory lifting was limited to varsity players in the past.
"Maybe I did catch a few people off guard," he said. "You might lose a few kids in the beginning, but everybody seems to know the rules from then on and you don't have any more problems."
For Carroll, that would be a welcomed change.
Carter, who coached Bishop Montgomery's basketball team to a 9-13 record last season, said he resigned because of financial reasons.
"There was nothing negative about the job except the pay," he said. "I liked the administration and the faculty. I thought the basketball program would get better every year. I liked all the kids in the program."
But he couldn't make ends meet.
Carter, who has coached basketball for 10 years, including stints as an assistant at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Torrance High, said he is going into business.
"It got to the point where I wanted a little more financial security," he said. "There's not much security in coaching. I just wanted something that was more lucrative and has more conventional-type hours."
Under Carter, the Knights opened the season with a 9-4 record but went 0-8 in the tough Angelus League, losing six games by six points or less. The team returns several key players, including all-league junior guard Darryl Daniels, who led the Knights with an 18-point scoring average.
Carter said he has recommended a few coaching candidates that he hopes the Bishop Montgomery administration will consider.
"I hope they hire somebody I recommended because they would keep my same (assistant) coaches and have the same coaching philosophy. All four levels ran the same offense and defense last year. It's important to have continuity if you want to establish a winning program."
Carroll said the school is accepting applications for a new coach.
"(Carter's recommendations) are something we are considering," he said. "But we're not going to sacrifice for consistency. We're going to hire the best guy we can get."
Dominguez, the Banning football coach, lost perhaps the best player in his program last February when All-L.A. City fullback Derek Sparks transferred to Montclair Prep in Van Nuys.
However, Dominguez isn't worried about replacing the talented sophomore.