Monday, January 27, 2014

Vanessa's Birthday and the NorCal All-Sports Clinic

We start with a celebration of our daughter-in-law's 20th birthday dinner two weekends ago.

Vanessa and Jacob

Maybe she turned 21, I can't recall.

Playing with Blocks while the
49ers and Seahawks played

Apparently, priorities change when a grandson is in the house.

 "Snake" Stabler avoiding the

 When he is done with his playing days, Jacob is considering majoring in Architecture

A little Red Wine with Laurie's
EXCELLENT French Birthday Dinner

It was a good Sunday for family time.

NorCal All-Sports Clinic

This past weekend, I drove up to Foster City which is located just south of San Francisco to attend a very good clinic. While there were coaches speaking on baseball and softball.  Obviously I was there to hear a great set of football coaches fire up my passion for American football once again.

 University of Cincinnati Bearcats
$1,100 (805 Euros) Riddell Helmet???

This top-of-the-line helmet usually sells for $250. Why the outrageous price tag you ask?

According to the salesman at the NorCal clinic, the shrink wrap like red and black checkers plus the other claw marks and C add a cool $850 to the cost of styling.

Makes you wonder how much the University of Oregon, or Nike's Phil Knight more than likely, has invested in their helmet inventory.

As for the clinic itself, it was very refreshing to hear several new approaches on how to improve our coaching. Over the course of three days I listened to 18 hours worth of lectures from a wide variety of coaches.

Here is a list of the lectures that I attended:

TJ Ewing, Monterey Trail H.S., Elk Grove, CA
"Tackle and Turnover Drills"
"Competitive Line Drills"

Adam Hazel, St. Francis Central Coast Catholic H.S., Watsonville, CA (more about Adam later)
"QB and WR Fundamentals"

Rick Stewart, Delano H.S., Delano, CA
"Gang Green 4-2-5/3-4 Defense: Coverages & Alignments"
"Tackling and Pursuit Drills for any Championship Defense"
"Team Building Year Round"
"No Huddle Wing-T Offense, Signals, Wrist Bands, Audibles"
"Pistol Wing-T Combo Plays and Zone Read"

Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy, Little Rock, AR
"Onside Kicks: The Numbers Behind It, Over Ten Different Kicks"
"Fourth Down, No Punt Philosophy"

Mark Modeste, Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton, CA
"Gap Cancellation and Force and Fill Techniques"

Rick Jones, Greenwood H.S., Greenwood, AR
"Spread Offense: Quick Game and Dropback"
"Spread Offense: Running the Ball"

Kevin Navarra, Buhach Colony H.S., Atwater, CA
"3-2 Hex: Defending the Wing-T"
"3-2 Hex: Defending the Option"
"3-2 Hex: Defending the Power"

Travis Cox, El Dorado H.S., Placerville, CA
"3-5 Cougar Attack Defense"

Jack Messina, Fremont H.S., Sunnyvale, CA
"DL - Pass Rush Techniques and Drills"

Jim Fassel, former Head Coach, New York Football Giants
"QB Development and Fundamentals"

I was both exhilarated and mentally tired each night. What to do? Food but of course!

Jacob calls Laurie "GiGi"

While trying to find an open ice cream shop in Burlingame, I discovered Laurie's clandestine boutique.

I also found a GREAT ice cream shop!

Saturday morning I went back to nearby Burlingame to find a bit of breakfast.

 It was ok but not up to French standards

Still, I needed more . . .


I know that Fika is Swedish and Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark. Close enough for me! It was quite good.

Meanwhile, back at the NorCal clinic . . .

Danny Chan
Head Coach at Lowell H.S.

Lowell H.S. is located in San Francisco. As it turns out, Danny was Denver Wade's coach when he attended Lowell in the early years of the 21st Century.

You may recall that Denver was our excellent line coach with the Catania Elephants back in 2009 and that I visited with Denver and his scintillating Sicilian girlfriend Melissa Lodato before last month's Fight Hunger Bowl game in San Francisco.

Small world . . .

With Erik Peterson Saturday Night

Erik was an outstanding defensive lineman for us in the early 1980s at Westlake H.S. 

He was attending the clinic because of his position as Defensive Coordinator at Yosemite H.S. in Oakhurst, CA.

It was great to see him and catch up on old times.

Really small world . . .

Adam and Eva Hazel

When I first met Adam, he was the Offensive Coordinator at Menlo College. We had previously made contact via the internet because he played football in Germany for two seasons.

He is now the Head Coach at St. Francis Central Coast Catholic H.S. in Watsonville, CA, as I stated earlier.

He did a very good job as a speaker at the NorCal clinic. 

With Adam

On Sunday morning, I stopped in Morgan Hill to meet the Hazels and their lovely baby daughter for a great country breakfast.

Good people.

A fine winery on the outskirts
of Arroyo Grande

Laetitia is one of Laurie's favorite central coast wineries and after a weekend away, I thought that buying her a couple of good bottles of wine would be a wise idea.

Being a good husband can, at rare times, be a N0-Brainer.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ventura County All-Star Game

The 41st Annual Ventura County High School All-Star Football Game was played Saturday night at Moorpark College.

The first 40 editions of the County classic had been held in the Summer but our Ventura County Football Coaches Association opted to try a mid-January date this time as so many other All-Star games have been doing in recent years.

I have had the opportunity to coach in this game on four occasions. I served as an assistant coach in the 1974, 1990 and 1994 editions and was the head coach of the East team in 1980. 

Captains  Out

Our Newbury Park players play for the East team and are in the blue jerseys. On the left is NPHS DE #43 Jordan Flack who was selected as a team captain.

 East on Offense

West Team Zone Read 

It was an entertaining game that ended with the East team winning 44-26.

Newbury Park was Represented

From left to right: Kaiden Mowery, Jake Pace, Cole Tracy, Coach Brian Hisel, George Toki, Hayden Exstrom, Coach Michael Contreras and Jordan Flack

Mike's choice of shorts and flip-flops says a bit about the brutal mid-January weather in Southern California this year.

With Devin "Che" Williams

"Che" and his teammate Joseph Gonzales were the two players representing Rio Mesa H.S. on the West team this year. Unfortunately, I could not find Joseph after the game for a picture. They were my last two links to my coaching career at RMHS.

It was a beautiful night to watch an American football game!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Nazis Are Coming, The Nazis Are Coming . . .

Reading Is FUNdamental

A Book by Georges Simenon

I recently forwarded a list of "The 32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life" on FaceBook.

You can find this list at:

I had already read a few of the tomes on the list and decided to check out the #28 book on this list, Georges Simenon's The Train for a quick read.

It details the fictional journey of a man and his family from the French northeastern town of Fumay near the Belgian border as they try to escape the onslaught of the fast approaching German Army at the start of World War II.

It was a good read but I don't feel changed in any substantial way.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Mysterious Package Delivery and a EuroBall Talk at the University of La Verne

On Tuesday night we got a notice that FedEx had tried to deliver a package to our home while we were out and that I could pick it up, if I wanted to, at 9:00 a.m. at their Oxnard distribution center, or wait for them to try to deliver this mysterious package again Wednesday afternoon.

I had a pretty good idea what was in the package, so at 8:52 a.m. I was anxiously waiting outside of FedEx's locked doors for them to promptly open for possibly the most important working day in the history of the package delivery industry.

 Here is the Mystery Package

By 9:02 a.m., the package was in my hot, sweaty little hands, ready to be ripped apart in the parking lot.

What was it it?

A Beautiful Ring

A Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons 2013 National Championship ring!!!

I got this package on January 8, 2014, exactly seven months to the day since we played the French Division III American football title contest in Lyon against the Pionniers from Tours.

Out of the Box, Still NICE!!!

None of these pictures really do the ring justice. It is marvelous!

How does it look on my finger?


Now, it needs to be said that over the course of my 48 seasons of coaching American football, we have been fortunate enough to be part of several league championship teams and even more playoff squads. Unfortunately, we had never been able to go all the way in said playoffs until this magical 12-0 season in France.

I know a lot of coaches who have won multiple rings and I can only wonder if they still feel the true wonder of winning it all.

I guess, what I'm saying is that this first ring for me is extremely satisfying and special.

Another Look

Hammer Time was our Theme

I'm not sure which of our players came up with the icon to match our theme, but I loved it.

Gratifying to say the VERY Least

That afternoon, I got to wear my ring in public for the first time when I was scheduled to give my EuroBall pep/informational talk to a group of Seniors at the University of La Verne. 

A beautiful little campus

 ULV's "Big Top" Gym

Seven ULV Leopards who are
ready to take their skills to Europe

They were a good group that will be ready to go overseas as soon as they graduate in mid-May. Look for their profiles on soon.

So far this "off-season," I have talked to about 25 Seniors from California Lutheran University, Occidental College and now the University of La Verne who want to explore the EuroBall option extending their careers on the Continent.

Good luck men!


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Andy Turns 40???

On Monday we headed out the door for yet another five hour drive from Camarillo to Las Vegas to visit our son Andrew, Jenn and Kevin, a.k.a., "Tank" Contreras.

Near Baker, California

About two more hours to "Sin City," this may be my favorite street name in the known universe. 

Andrew Gardner Contreras

The main purpose for out trek through the desert was to celebrate Andy's 40th birthday on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

Forty years . . . and as our French ami Julien Urgenti noted, Laurie just turned 50 last spring.

Of course, we would also take advantage of Andy and Jenn's mega-monster sized TV and entertainment complex to watch 15 college American football bowl games (winners in red) in only four days:

Bell Armed Forces: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy
Music City: Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi
Valero Alamo: Oregon vs. Texas
Holiday: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech

AdvoCare V100: Arizona vs. Boston College
Hyundai Sun: UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Auto Zone Liberty: Mississippi State vs. Rice
Chick-fil-A: Duke vs. Texas A&M

WEDNESDAY Gator: Georgia vs. Nebraska
Heart of Dallas: North Texas vs. UNLV
Capital One: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Outback: Iowa vs. LSU
Rose: Michigan State vs. Stanford

Tostitos Fiesta: Baylor vs. Central Florida
Allstate Sugar: Alabama vs. Oklahoma


Of course, we needed to see if Andy and Jenn were properly taking care of grandson Kevin's off-season strength and conditioning program.

I thought that this was a good
effort for this time of the year

Who are we really kidding, the trip was mostly about seeing Kevin.

"What do you mean that
there is no dessert tonight?" 

Just kidding Tank

"Do you want to lick the frosting spoon from Daddy's birthday cake?"


"I'll drive you home Grandpa."

We had a great time but on Friday morning we started the long drive home, only after breakfast at Hash House A-Go-Go, however.

When we got got home in the late afternoon, I opted to go over to Rio Mesa H.S., where I had not been in a long time, to watch a boys Varsity basketball game.  

Oak Park 46 - Rio Mesa 30

The home team Spartans, in white, are in for a long season I'm afraid.

The gym has excellent new lighting and the school has spent a lot of money on new championship banners. The old gym really looks good.

Hey, that's me 

Maybe, some day when they are older and can understand, I can proudly show this banner to Kevin and Jacob.

Surprise Present

When we opened our mail after the Las Vegas trip, I was excited to find a package from Spain with a T-shirt from American football coach Diego Pagnotta who works with this team in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It was a late Christmas present and a great one to boot!

It is my dream to coach one more time in Europe and Spain is the country that I dream of constantly.

We'll see . . .