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Friday Night Lights: Gonzales HS

Take a look at the Spartans of California

Welcome to another installment of Friday Night Lights. 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.

This week brings us back to the state of California. Most/all of the teams in the MWC, along with most other programs in the country, recruit the talent-rich state of Cali, searching far and wide for recruits to better their programs. Perhaps one of the programs that isn’t a household name is Gonzales HS. This week, we talked with the Spartan’s head coach, Art Berlanga, who was kind enough to answer some questions for us. He shares many unique things that seem rare in today’s high school game, such as the lack of a feeder team and players who work out on the farms all summer.

How would you describe the culture or identify of your program? What do you think might make you unique compared to other schools?

The culture of our program is a rebuilding one. Gonzales football has a very strong and rich tradition, especially in the late 60’s, all of the 70’s, and 90’s. We are working very hard to remind the people where Gonzales Football belongs. What makes our program unique is we are a very small Gonzales community: 8,187 population. We have one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. We are Agriculture town (field workers). In other words, we are a tier 1 high school and low economic community.

What styles of offense and defense do you play?

Our offense is a multiple set offense and we run a 4-2-5 defense.

What are some specific ways your program develops players or helps them improve from freshman to senior year?

We develop our players by running an off-season strength and speed program from January through July like many programs do. We send our players to football camps during the spring and summer as well. Another way we develop our players is we run a summer youth flag football league and I assign my players to be coaches for our league. This way they get to really learn the game of football through the eyes of a coach.

What’s something about your team/program that not many people know about?

Within my program, I have 8 players who work in the fields all summer (5:00 AM - 5:00 PM) and still make it to our team offseason workouts after work. We also don’t have a feeder youth program. Many of my players have never played football before until they get to high school.

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?

This aspect of football doesn’t affect us too much. As a right now, I have 1 player who is actively being recruited by 4-year colleges. I have about 5 who can play college football, but will have to go the JUCO route.

Who are some of the prominent players from your school who have gone to D1 programs and where have they gone?

We haven’t had a player sign a D1 scholarship since 2001: OL - Juan Leyva Missouri State Univ.

Who are some of your top players this year getting D1 looks or offers?

Our top recruit is DT/OL Pablo Villasenor (6’5” 250). Schools that have asked for his transcripts and talked to him so far are Sacramento State Univ. and San Jose State.

Want your team to be part of a future Friday Night Lights series? Contact @Mike_SBN or @MWCConnection on Twitter.