On a 100-degree afternoon at a high school football practice that demands substitution, Bill Biggs asks what seems to be rhetorical: “Do I have another left guard?”
Surely, there’s another left guard.
Surely, the most enduring prep offensive-line coach in Fresno County history had no need to ask the question in 37 years as an assistant at Division I programs Clovis West, Clovis, Buchanan and Central, whose enrollments range from 2,200 to 4,000.
Yet, on this day, at this 697-student D-V school, the answer is 10 feet away, coming from Kyle Biggs – his son, and now this family’s man in charge as head coach – and it’s hardly subtle: “Ben’s all you’ve got.”
So Ben Alvarez, the left guard – the only left guard – continues to plow away among 30 strong at Fowler. The Biggs tandem presses forward with no less aggression and, for those savvy to their pedigree, there’s no pity.
No worry: Kyle and Bill Biggs will get it done. They always have, and at an elite level of competition.
Dad has assisted six Central Section top-division championship teams – two at Clovis West and four at Clovis. This is the 1966 Fresno High School graduate’s 41st season coaching high school football – but, remarkably, none as a varsity head coach. Only because he’s wanted it that way: “I cannot multitask; I’ve got to focus on one thing, one area, and that’s been the offensive line.”
Kyle Biggs passed for a then-section season record 3,557 yards while guiding Clovis, a No. 10 seed, to four playoff road wins and a Yosemite Division title in 1997.
Kyle, meanwhile, was The Bee’s Player of the Year and a state POY finalist as a section record-setting quarterback for Yosemite Division champ Clovis in 1997, when the 10th-seeded Cougars swept four playoff games on the road. And he was Central Valley Conference POY for 10-1 Fresno City College in 2000.
Their presence is pronounced at this West Sequoia League campus, impressively maintained, decorated in red and black and wrapped by grape vineyards in south Fresno County.
And for Redcats senior quarterback Matt Kahaian, it can admittedly be intimidating being mentored by Kyle Biggs – at 6 feet, 5 inches and a depth of history.
“Of course, yes,” Kahaian says a year after accounting for 2,303 yards and 23 touchdowns for a 9-4 team that upset second-seeded Kern Valley en route to reaching the D-V semifinals. “It’s a big transition for us, having him come in after he’s coached at D-I schools. He really pushes me hard to be better, and I’m perfectly fine with it.”
As is a Fowler Unified School District superintendent who seized the opportunity to land Kyle Biggs when he dived into the applicant pool in February 2014.
“What Kyle brought to the table,” Eric Cederquist says, “from the technical standpoint – X’s and O’s, practice, strategic planning, games – he would put our kids in a situation to be successful. And that’s proven to be accurate.”
And then there’s Dad, at 67.
“He’s like the Pied Piper,” Cederquist says. “He still has that ability to relate to young athletes, and that’s very powerful.”
Kyle Biggs, 35 and a special-education teacher, has coached but 13 games at Fowler; he has coached but 13 games as a prep CEO – ever.
But there’s no denying the prevailing thought here: How long can the Redcats realistically hope to keep him? How long until that next high-profile D-I vacancy north and across the street at Fresno/Clovis, a principal tapping into “favorites” on his iPhone and connecting with KYLE BIGGS?
Cederquist can only hope against the virtually hopeless and expect Biggs to become a deep-rooted Redcat such as the school’s 17-year baseball coach, Bill Feaver – a Fowler grad, former state Coach of the Year, five-time section champion and one of the winningest coaches in section history.
“We understand this,” Cederquist says. “It’s the level we’re at. We also believe in the beauty of a small school – the cheerleaders, the band, the concession stands; you’ve got 75 percent of the kids involved in sports and the others in the stands cheering – there’s nothing better. That’s what makes the D-V high school experience the best.”
This is a great place and I have no problem staying here the rest of my coaching and teaching life.
Kyle Biggs, former Clovis High and Fresno City star quarterback and second-year Fowler High football coach
Kyle Biggs says: “You don’t want to say never (about accepting a D-I job); I won’t say it in those pretenses. But this is a great place and I have no problem staying here the rest of my coaching and teaching life.”
This – he, we, Dad and anyone ever remotely associated with Kyle Biggs – can be said for certain: He was destined to be a coach.
“No question,” says Tim Simons, who coached him at Clovis. “Kyle was always so dead serious about football and much more of a student of the game than most high school kids.”
Kyle Biggs was drawing up plays at 10 years old. And, make no mistake, they reflected his father’s offensive-line fundamentals.
“Dad was very focused and meticulous,” son says. “And, if there was one thing I learned: If you can’t block it and can’t protect it, you can’t do it. Every time I draw something up, you can block everybody and protect everything; it’s sound. If not, there’s no point in doing it because it’s not going to work.”
Never ‘far from the game’
Kyle Biggs, his “ultimate dream” of playing in the NFL failing to evolve after playing at Clovis, Fresno City and a bit at New Mexico Highlands, had assisted at Clovis, Buchanan, Central and Bullard before applying at Fowler.
The progression and reputation had been steady, accelerated by offensive coordinator positions at Central and Bullard.
Bullard coach Donnie Arax, two years removed from delivering the school’s first section title and establishing his program as a neighborhood running mate with the Bakersfields and Clovis Highs of section lore, recruited Kyle Biggs as offensive coordinator in 2011.
But that contract, Arax says, was accompanied with an asterisk: “I knew it would be a short stay.”
Arax identified in Biggs a fading force in the coaching industry: “Kyle is one of those guys who grew up on the football field; osmosis is an unbelievable thing.
“Not too many of those guys are left, a diminishing breed. Kyle knows the game and the time put in to know it. He might be home on a Saturday watching a college game, he sees something and draws it up. His mind is never far from the game of football.
“His wife might not like that.”
Kyle and Mayra Biggs produced a girl, Madden Mia, on Jan. 10, 2014.
Yes, as in John Madden.
“I just threw it out there and (Mayra) caught it,” says Kyle, with an undeniable wink.
Then he strolls to the practice field, east and adjacent to splendid and comfy Nielsen Stadium, where 2,500 arrive for Friday Night Lights, where tri-tip sandwiches lather all and the coach stands tall, in control.
And, again, who knows for how long?
“At first,” he says, “these kids asked, ‘Why do you care so much? Why do you coach us so hard?’ We may be a D-V school, but we have D-I facilities, D-I coaching and D-I game plans. We don’t look at ourselves as a D-V school. That’s what we portray to our kids.
“And we’re going to live up to these standards.”
2015 Fowler schedule
- Sept. 4: vs. Firebaugh
- Sept. 11: at Sierra
- Sept. 18: vs. Liberty-Madera Ranchos
- Sept. 25: vs. Lindsay
- Oct. 2: at Central Valley Christian
- Oct. 9: at Parlier
- Oct. 16: vs. Orange Cove
- Oct. 23: at Minarets
- Oct. 30: vs. Riverdale
- Nov. 6: at Caruthers