Kevin Williams had been an assistant football coach at Granada Hills Kennedy happily toiling around behind the scenes for 11 years when he was plucked from obscurity in 2007 to become coach at Woodland Hills El Camino Real, known for its powerful baseball program and underachieving football teams.
"The program was in disarray," Williams said. "The principal is a man that I've known for many years. . . . He really had to do a selling job on me because I was happy at Kennedy, and I didn't want to be a head coach at the time. He talked me into it."
Principal Dave Fehte no doubt is pleased with Williams. The Conquistadores are 5-0 and off to their best start since 1977, thanks greatly to the double-wing offense put in by Williams.
With two tight ends, two wingbacks, a fullback and a quarterback, the relatively simple run-oriented attack uses deception, power and double teams at the point of attack. It's designed to help offenses without overwhelming talent move the ball. And if a team has a talented running back and experienced linemen, the results can be stunning.
That's what is happening at El Camino Real, where senior Rashon Harper has put together consecutive seasons of more than 1,000 yards rushing, and he has been joined this season by sophomore Kawan Rally, a 220-pound bulldozer with speed. And senior quarterback Ryan Meier has speed and a good arm, allowing the Conquistadores to use a four-receiver formation at times.
El Camino Real's season-opening win over Southern Section power Newhall Hart let people know the team had ability. But it will be how well the Conquistadores perform in West Valley League play that should reveal whether the program has really turned a corner. It begins Friday against Lake Balboa Birmingham, which has dominated league play this decade along with Woodland Hills Taft. Birmingham gets back USC-bound running back Trajuan Briggs, who had been out because of a foot injury.
Look out for Jackrabbits
This is the time of season when teams need to be judged by how well they are improving, and that's why concluding that Long Beach Poly is in decline because of its 2-4 record would be erroneous. The team I saw lose to Lakewood, 21-14, Friday night is much better than the one I watched get routed by Anaheim Servite in zero week.
Sophomore receiver Josiah Blandin, sophomore linebacker Salamo Fiso and junior receiver Earnest Pettway are top players in the making.
The Jackrabbits are going to be a factor in the Pac-5 Division playoffs because their group of talented sophomores and juniors are getting better.
Herrick rises again
Michael Herrick graduated from Valencia in 2006 after passing for 3,760 yards his senior year. He was only 6 feet 1 and bound for Mississippi.
He left Mississippi after two years, transferred to Northern Arizona, a Football Championship Subdivision school, and now he's a star.
He passed for 388 yards Saturday to help Northern Arizona beat No. 24-ranked Montana State, 23-10. He threw for 306 yards against Southern Utah and 445 yards against Montana.
On Nov. 7, he gets to start at quarterback at Mississippi -- but for Northern Arizona.
See how they run
Go online to watch El Camino Real's double-wing offense in action during practice.