The Independent continues a series on head football coaches in the Clovis Unified School District. Rich Hammond of Clovis High School is profiled today. The series will appear intermittently during the football season.
Rich Hammond graduated from college intending to work as an engineer. Instead, he ended up in classrooms and on the sidelines of high school football games – inspired by two coaches who couldn’t have more different stories.
One thrived in a small city, and the other played in four Super Bowls. Both taught lessons that went beyond yards gained and points scored on Friday nights. Hammond learned from each man.
“I get the tremendous game of football as a vehicle to teach lessons,” he said. “Those lessons help young people foster positive daily habits, give them a better understanding of the world they live in and build lifetime friendships.”
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Hammond played safety at San Benito High School in Hollister, where Chris Cameron was his coach. Cameron guided the Balers to four section championships and six other championship game appearances over 22 years.
“I had a tremendous experience playing for him and getting the idea that if you try to help people be the best they can be, everything else takes care of itself,” Hammond said. “His focus was always on that. It wasn’t so much the X’s and O’s.”
After graduating from high school, Hammond walked on the football team at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. J.D. Williams was his position coach at safety.
Williams had a standout career at Fresno State, where he earned second team All-America honors. In 1990, Buffalo drafted Williams in the first round, and he subsequently played in four Super Bowls for the Bills.
“He didn’t have to take the time to be interested in me, but he did,” Hammond said of Williams. “He treated me as good as he treated every single guy in that position. Coach Williams talked a lot about learning the things you needed to be a man later in life, and I took those things to heart.”
After a year at Cal Poly, Hammond returned to Hollister for family reasons. He enrolled at Cabrillo College, a community college in Aptos, and he played a season of football. Hammond then transferred to San Jose State University, earning a degree in industrial and systems engineering.
He worked for a company for one year, and while looking for another job, he started substitute teaching. That led to a full-time job in education.
Hammond, who teaches math at Clovis High, worked at Gilroy and Santa Clara high schools before coming to Clovis.
Here’s a look at Hammond and the Cougars as the 2016 season is underway.
▪ He is in his eighth season at Clovis High.
▪ Hammond started playing football in the ninth grade when he was 14. He enjoyed the strategy, camaraderie and physicality of the game.
▪ He doesn’t root for a pro team. “Too busy with Clovis High,” he said.
▪ When asked about a memorable game he played in, Hammond pivots to the most memorable he coached. It was 2010, his second season with the Cougars. Clovis High was at El Diamante High School of Visalia in the quarterfinals of the Central Section playoffs. “It was a very cold night, and we won 14-7 with our backup quarterback and a super defensive performance,” he said.
▪ Coaching in the Tri-River Athletic Conference: “The TRAC is always very competitive and forces you to prepare to be your best week in and week out.”
▪ Clovis High went 4-1 in league and 11-2 overall in 2015. The Cougars played in the finals for the Central Section championship but lost to Liberty of Bakersfield. In 2014, Clovis reached the semifinals of the playoffs before losing.
“This season we want to take the next step and win the Valley Championship,” Hammond said. “We return a group of eight three-year starters, and we will lean on them.”
Offensive line: Cole Acevedo, Eric Delk and Seth Nevills.
Offensive skill positions: Samir Allen, Christian Copeland, Tyson Fraser and Nash Vidmar.
Tight ends: Clayton Alexander and Colton Byrd.
Defensive line: Clayton Alexander, Spencer Smith, Quinn Vosmera and Ruger Wyneken.
Linebackers: Dyllon Hudec, Trevor Hartmann and Troy Zuccarini.
Corners: Cyrus Manley and Bailey Obenesser.
Cole Acevedo, Anthony Adalpe, Clayton Alexander, Samir Allen, Zach Anderson, Xavier Arriola, Seth Baudonnet, Kenny Blowers, Duran Boyd, Colton Byrd, Avery Castillo, Tyler Childers, Tyler Collier, Brandon Contreras, Christian Copeland, Nick Delgado, Eric Delk, Joseph Dellamaggiore, Jaden Devore, Spencer Douglas, Mason Fraser, Tyson Fraser, Robert Gastello, Guillermo Gomez and Jacob Good.
Trevor Hartmann, Jacob Hinrichs, Dyllon Hudec, Josh Hunt, Hunter Huthmacher, Anthony Jimenez, Trey Lake, Cody Lawrence, Jessie Lingar, Michael Machado, Nick Malcolm, Cyrus Manley, Payton Mayer, Isaiah Mendibles, Seth Nevills, Thang Nguyen, Bailey Obernesser, Kolade Ogunjemiyo, Matt Olff, John Ortiz, Anthony Ponce and Anthony Prentice.
Aliikoa Ramos, Curtis Ray, Mason Rice, Cole Roberts, R.G. Salcedo, Mathew Sanchez, Noah Shepherd, Houston Sims, Payton Short, Spencer Smith, Spencer Stephens, Brandon Turner, David Turner, Cole Tushnet, Bryson Urbina, Mason Varner, Nash Vidmar, Quinn Vosmera, Aaron Wiethoff, Jack Wiggins, Zevan Williams, Jake Woods, Ruger Wyneken and Troy Zuccarini.
CLOVIS HIGH 2016 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 27 – Burbank at Lamonica Stadium
Sept. 2 – at Turlock
Sept. 9 – Bullard at Lamonica Stadium
Sept. 16 – at Stockdale (Bakersfield)
Sept. 23 – Centennial at Lamonica Stadium
Sept. 30 – Bye
Oct. 7 – Clovis East at Lamonica Stadium
Oct. 14 – at Central
Oct 21 – Buchanan at Veterans Memorial Stadium
Oct. 28 – Clovis North at Lamonica Stadium
Nov. 4 – Clovis West at Veterans Memorial Stadium