When football coach Atnaf Harris jumped from Roosevelt High to his alma mater, Edison, Vince Branstetter saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
His first head coaching job? You bet.
Branstetter was named Roosevelt’s coach this week after spending the past three seasons at Fresno City College as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
“Being a head coach has always been a goal of mine,” Branstetter said. “I never knew when the right opportunity was going to come. Why Roosevelt? Why not? I just need somebody who will believe in me.”
Last season, the Rough Riders finished 8-4 overall and 4-1 in the North Yosemite League, a solid turnaround after 2-9 in Harris’ only other season.
“They did a great job laying a foundation here last year,” Branstetter said. “I’m looking forward to building on that and making this thing into a consistently winning program. That’s my main goal right off the bat. Find a way to connect with the kids on campus. There’s plenty of talent here.”
Branstetter played for legendary Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney as a freshman tight end out of Western-Anaheim in 1996 before spending three more seasons under Pat Hill.
Before joining Tony Cavliglia’s staff, Branstetter was the offensive coordinator at Edison and Clovis North. Branstetter helped lead Clovis North to two Central Section titles and a runner-up finish as offensive coordinator from 2011-13.
“Those kids are fortunate to have a coach of his caliber,” Fresno City coach Caviglia said. “Coach Harris built a foundation over there and Coach Branstetter will take them to another level.”
Branstetter said he missed high school football.
“I miss the raw emotion of a high school athlete on Friday night, and the camaraderie with the fans and support you get from the student body. That was something I was kind of missing.
“Since I was able to coach at the college level, I’m going to bring that mentality of running a college program. Our kids, academically, we’re going to make sure they’re college-ready when they leave here. Athletically, we’re going to give them every opportunity to take care of their bodies and put good coaches around them for them to succeed.”