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.
Yet another week spent looking at a high school program in the large and football-focused state of California. Head coach Eric Cavaliere was kind enough to spend some time connecting with us and answering our questions in order to learn more about the Oak Ridge Trojans. Take a look below.
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/identity of our program is based around being a well disciplined, hard working program. Our players are TEAM centered and truly have respect for one another. We are a community based program that tries to get as many students and community members involved as possible. What makes us unique is that we are a single high school town with closed boundaries, which really brings a sense of community to our team. A large percentage of our players have been going to school together since elementary school. We truly have a “hometown” atmosphere at our games and in our program.
What styles of offense and defense do you play?
We run a spread offense using a variety of personnel groups. On defense we will use a few different fronts and play both zone and man coverage.
What are some specific ways your program develops players or helps them improve from freshman to senior year?
We have strong continuity between our high school and youth football program - we also offer several camps throughout the year to give youth players the opportunity to work with high school coaches. Once in high school, we have a very well run strength and conditioning program that all players participate in - we also STRONGLY encourage our players to play other sports. Playing other sports, in my opinion, is the best way for a young player to develop athletically.
What’s something about your team/program that not many people know about?
One thing many people may not know about our program is that our Varsity team attends a team camp during the Summer. With the new rules for contact, most programs cut out going to a team camp, but we continue to go to one every year (Southern Oregon University this year) wearing t shirts and shorts (no pads, of course). It is beneficial to attend the camp from an execution standpoint, but the main reason we continue to go is to give our players the opportunity to create a positive team culture, and to give them a 4 day college experience. This has been a key component in creating a positive team culture, and has also inspired many of our players to take a more serious approach to their academics, with plans to attend college themselves.
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?
The message that we send our players regarding recruiting is to PLAY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL. We encourage them to focus on playing for the Oak Ridge Trojans and if they do that the recruiting will take care of itself. I have seen in past, unfortunately, kids who are so focused on where they will play in college that they leave a lot on the table on what could have been in high school. What I do to help them is to try to set achievable goals and help find the right direction for them in selecting a college. I really enjoy communicating with college coaches and I am happy to do so at every opportunity - through email, a phone call, or during a visit. Our players know from me that I will only speak the truth to college coaches regarding individual players, and I believe that I have the trust of the college coaches by doing so. I want college coaches to know exactly what they are getting in our players.
Who are some of the prominent players from your school who have gone to D1 programs and where have they gone?
Some scholarship players from Oak Ridge:
- Bryan Catchings - UNLV
- Truman Andrus - UCD
- Cameron Stone - Harvard
- Andrew Lackowski - Bemidji State Univ.
- Ian Book - Notre Dame
- Kevin Kassis - Montana State
- Ross Dwelley - USD
- Colton Giorgi - USD
- Justin Priest - USD
- Blake Martin - USD
- Roman Andrus - Utah St.
- Anthony Pudwell - UNR
- Shane Steichen - UNLV
- Marvin Phillip - Cal
- Ryan Moya - UCLA
- Isaac Kinter - Fresno State
- Seyi Ajirotutu - Fresno State
- Sean Steichen - Boise State
- Brett Thompson - BYU
- Austin Collie - BYU
Who are some of your top players this year getting D1 looks or offers?
Currently being recruited:
- Zach Welch OL (committed to UNR)
- Matt Jenner QB
- Gage King DE/TE
Want your team to be part of a future Friday Night Lights series? Contact @Mike_SBN or @MWCConnection on Twitter.