The Independent begins a series today on head football coaches in the Clovis Unified School District. Jim O’Brien at Clovis East High School is the first to be profiled. The series will appear intermittently during the football season.
Jim O’Brien played prep football for the St. Helena High School Saints. Location: California’s Napa Valley. For anyone who’s visited there, vineyards stretching to the horizon and the area’s 400-plus wineries are memorable.
O’Brien savors other memories. It’s the last game of the Saints’ regular season with the league title and a spot in the playoffs at stake.
“We scored on a reverse pass with about one minute left in the game to win,” he said.
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O’Brien’s players will look to make their own memories in the upcoming season.
Here’s a look at O’Brien and this year’s team at Clovis East.
▪ He’s entering his fifth season as coach of the Timberwolves.
▪ At age 10, he started playing Pop Warner football in St. Helena. He liked the bonds he made with his teammates and coaches.
▪ O’Brien played two years at West Hills College in Coalinga. He mostly played wide receiver and kick returner in high school and at the community college.
▪ He’s a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers.
▪ Three local coaches have had big influences on him.
Richard Womack of West Hills College — “He taught me to fight and never give up,” O’Brien said.
Mike Vogt at Buchanan High School and Pat Plummer at Hoover High School — “They helped guide and mold me from a young coach who thought he had all the answers to a man who can’t stop searching for more answers,” he said.
▪ Why he coaches high school football: “I want the opportunity to help boys become men who will be outstanding leaders, mentors, and most importantly, fathers who will continue to give back to society.”
▪ Coaching in the Tri-River Athletic Conference: “There is no greater feeling than walking into Lamonica Stadium, in front of your home crowd, and taking on the best each week.”
▪ In 2015, Clovis East went 3-8 overall and 0-5 in league. “We lost most of our games by less than a touchdown,” O’Brien said. “We have a very tough schedule this year. If we can stay healthy and get better every day, we look forward to having an exciting season.”
Marcus Washington, running back, junior (school rushing leader, two-year varsity starter, two-time first team All-TRAC)
Ibraheim Garibeh, linebacker, senior
Ryan Hunt, defensive lineman, sophomore
Matt Juarez, offensive lineman, senior
Romello Knight, defensive back, junior
James Sowards, defensive lineman, senior
Tanner Tucker, wide receiver, senior
Matt White, offensive lineman, senior
Mike Jacot – Defensive Coordinator
Erin Banks – Linebackers
Marquis Figueroa – Safeties
Matt Lopez – Offensive Line
Kevin McLendon – Corners
Mitch Spangle – Defensive Line
Garen Stacey – Running Backs
Leroy Travis – Wide Receivers
Not available at press time
Clovis East 2016 Football Schedule
8/27 – at St. Ignatius College Prep (San Francisco)
9/2 – Redwood at Lamonica
9/9 – at Sanger
9/16 – Sunnyside at Lamonica
9/23 – at Foothill (Palo Cerdo in Shasta County)
10/7 – Clovis at Lamonica
10/14 – Clovis North at Lamonica
10/21 – Clovis West at Lamonica
10/28 – Buchanan at Veterans Memorial
11/3 – Central at Lamonica