Welcome to our brand new Friday Night Lights series! Every Friday from now until November, we will be posting an interview with a different high school coach. This series will highlight different high school programs around the country, with an attempted focus on high schools that are recruited by Mountain West Conference schools. The hope is that through this journey we all understand a bit about what goes into coaching at the high school level, what teams do similar and different from one another, and also learn more about the teams that recruits are coming from each year.
The first up is Mayfair HS in southern California. Derek Bedell has been the head coach there for four years. His name may sound familiar to Boise State fans as he is the brother of Offensive Line coach Brad Bedell. Derek shares a bit about how he transformed the football program from one with no cohesive identify into a culture that is UNCOMMON.
How would you describe the culture or identify of your program? What do you think might make you unique compared to other schools?
When we first arrived at Mayfair the first thing we noticed was that there was this negative culture surrounding the football team. The program and the players were not well liked on campus, the academics were poor, and the coaches were not well liked by the players. The easiest way to describe it, quite frankly, was there was no culture. We knew we had to change that and the focus of the program immediately. What we did was build a theme that allowed our players to define the culture. Our UNCOMMON culture is built on being great at everything all the time, not just football or the things that surround football but everything. Brush your teeth better today than yesterday, be a better son, friend, student, etc. Common people are ok with mediocrity; common students are ok with getting average grades. In other words common people are ok with just getting by, we are not. If you are ok with mediocrity you cannot and will not play in our football program. Probably one of the great things about taking over this program was that there was a lack of culture. Kids want organization, discipline and all the things that surround a positive culture. So once we defined what it means to be UNCOMMON our players bought in, they created the culture in the locker room we just gave them a tag word with a specific definition that they had to be accountable to each other for.
I think that is what makes us unique when it comes to culture inside our program. As coaches we created the idea, the tag line of what we expected from the players and they defined the culture. The truth is it is their culture not the coaches. The program is built around its player past, present and future, this is not UNCOMMON, but what is UNCOMMON is we give the players an ownership stake in the program and hold them accountable for the standards they set. By doing this you are creating a group that will not be denied. A group that understands they are representing the alumni, themselves, their families, the students at Mayfair. When you have a culture that is built on putting the interests of your players first and being great at everything you do, you are creating young men that will make a positive impact on the community, which is the goal of our program. Yes wins and losses are important but creating men of great character that understand it is ok to be different and great all the time that is UNCOMMON.
What styles of offense and defense do you play?
We are a multi-formation pro-style offense and a 3-4 defense. If we look like anybody in college football it would be Boise State or USC.
The pro-style offense fits us because it is not dependent on a specific player or type of player. It is very flexible; if we have a good QB and a couple good WR we will throw it a bunch. If we have a big OL and good TB we run the ball a bit more. If you have all of it you have a ton of flexibility and you will be hard to beat.
On defense the 3-4 has some of the same principles regarding its flexibility. It gives us a ton of options upfront and on the back end so that allows us to build where we are strong.
I think that flexibility in high school football is important. We are not like a college program that can recruit specific talent to fit a style of football. As coaches we need to be flexible and understand that we must put our players in a position to be successful a majority of the time. If you don’t you are not going to be successful on the field.
What are some specific ways your program develops players or helps them improve from freshman to senior year?
We are one program that has 3 teams. This is part of the UNCOMMON culture. We are not 3 different programs. One of the major things that has assisted us in our player development is we spend 1 hour per day during summer practice time instructing our freshman on proper weight lifting techniques and fundamentals. We do this so when we start school in August our freshmen lift with our JV and Varsity players daily. What we have found is that we are able to integrate our freshman players into our culture faster. This improves our retention rates and focuses all our players on our program goals thus improving on field performance. It also forces our older players to become leaders. They must be able to integrate the freshman into the culture and they must also learn to adapt what they normally do grow the program.
We also run our off-season program as if we were a college program. We coordinate our weight program with conditioning, speed training, flexibility and core on a daily basis. Much like a college program it starts as a general program that becomes more position specific as the off season moves forward. This is not unique at the high school level many schools do it, however it is unique because many of those school have more resources than us. We have a small weight room and no strength coach on campus. But we make do with what we have and it works pretty well for us. We certainly fill out our uniforms better now than before.
Our program believes in the multi-sport athlete. We encourage our players to get involved with other sports. Get away from football for a while. We have football players that are integral parts of our basketball, wrestling, baseball, track, and volleyball programs. This has drastically improved our athleticism and development. I think that sometime as coaches we want our players all of the time, but the truth is that if all they do is football they get burnt out and they fall out of love with football. If that is the case they are not going be as committed to being UNCOMMON.
The other piece that is vital to our player’s development is the academic piece. When we arrived here there were 41 ineligible players after the spring semester. Those players had to use summer school as a means to get eligible. I swore that this would never happen again. We set academic standards with our players and encouraged the teachers here to get involved. That was the missing piece, when we involved the teachers in the program they became stakeholders as well. A relationship built on communication and trust was formed between the football program and the faculty this allowed us to develop an academic plan that was college prep for all our players. It got our teachers and administration involved in the success of each one of our players on and off the field.
What’s something about your team/program that not many people know about?
Many people may not know about our program/team at all. We are situated between some of the biggest football powerhouses in the country. We are 3 miles from St. John Bosco, 8 Miles from Long Beach Poly, and 20 Miles from Mater Dei. So creating a visible identity has been difficult. However, with our success on the field last year and with a player like Chris Adimora for football and Josh Christopher in basketball and the recent success of Justin Turner (LA Dodgers, Mayfair Alum) we have started to get a foothold in the Southern California High School sports scene.
I think one other major thing is that Mayfair football has been good for a long time. At one point we had won 8 consecutive league titles from 2001-2008.
How do you as a team balance the current high school season with players being recruited by colleges or how might you help a high school recruit with that process?
We embrace it. It is not a distraction it is a blessing for us as a program to have athletes that college coaches believe can play at the next level. As a coaching staff we are very active in the recruitment of our student athletes. We believe that if you have a passion and desire to play college football there is a place for you to play. We open our program to every college coach that has an interest in our players. We evaluate our players and are honest with them when it comes to the level at which they can play in college. We then send out information packets on every player to every school in the country in the winter based on that evaluation. If the player wants us to be active in their recruitment we will be the point person for all their recruiting. I think that it is our job to ensure that our players have every opportunity to better themselves.
This year has been a bit different in that we have a national recruit in FS Chris Adimora and a Div. 1 QB recruit in Josh Calvin. When you have multiple div 1 recruits the benefits for your program is immeasurable. We will have more players sign college scholarships this year because the talents of Chris and Josh brought coaches to campus. Coaches have come on to campus and noticed we have more than just Chris and Josh.
As for how we balance it for the rest of the team, we don’t really need to. Because we have created this UNCOMMON culture our players embrace the success of others, they are not jealous of their teammate’s success, but rather they are motivated to increase their level. We have had the best spring practice in my 4 years here and I believe this is a direct reflection of our players having an opportunity to impress coaches from all over the country.
Who are some of the prominent players from your school who have gone to D1 programs and where have they gone?
- Alterraun Verner- UCLA, Drafted by the Tennessee Titans also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spent last season with the Miami Dolphins
- Tony Burnett- USC- CFL 2015-2016 Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2017 BC Lions
- Justin Northern- Fresno St
- Earnest Bagner- Current SR. Florida Atlantic University
- Fou Fonoti- Michigan St UDFA San Francisco 49ers
- Michael Bragg- Texas A&M Kingsville NFL Kansas City Chiefs
- Kaelin Burnett- Univ. of Nevada Played in, NFL UDFA Raiders 2012, 2014 Cardinals, 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders CFL
Who are some of your top players this year getting D1 looks or offers? Who are some of the players who are under the radar on your team?
- Chris Adimora FS- 21 offers Including Alabama, Boise St, Michigan, Texas, USC, UCLA, Utah. He is listed as the #1 FS in California (Also plays Basketball)
- Josh Calvin 6’4 200 lb Qb- Offers Nevada & Utah St Also plays Basketball)
- Antonio Hilt 6’1 275 lb DT- No Offers yet Huge upside but is young to football. Kind of an under the radar guy. A lot of schools like him but need to see more tape.
- Jordan Brown 5’9 175 lb CB- No Offers Yet significant interest from Sacramento St., UC Davis, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia. He is a UNDER the RADAR player that once coaches see him play in the fall his recruitment will pick up. (Also Plays Baseball)
- Baron Barajas 6’0 215 lb ILB- No Offers yet. Significant interest from Columbia, Azusa Pacific, Cornell, UC Davis, Mt. State. Baron is another under the radar player going into 2018. Spring recruiting has really helped him get on the boards at some schools.
2020 To Watch
- Angel Hernandez 6’4 285 lb OL- Angel has had a great spring and is a big time OL recruit for 2020. Was All State Sophomore team and 1st team all Cif last season. Would not be surprised at all if he went to a couple of camps this summer and left with offers. (Also Wrestles)
- Malachi Lyles 6’1.5 210 lb OLB- Malachi is a freak football talent. He is also a 3 sport athlete here. He is a prototypical OLB at the D1 level. He will be a major recruit after this season. (Other sports: Wrestling & track)
Want your team to be part of a future Friday Night Lights series? Contact @Mike_SBN or @MWCConnection on Twitter.