After seven years as the offensive coordinator at Los Osos High School, Matt Bechtel was hired as the head football coach at Colony High School on Monday, pending board approval that can come no sooner than March 2. Bechtel, 35, begins his first stint as a head coach with plenty of hopes for a Colony program that won CIF championships in 2006 and 2007.
“If you look at the success at Colony and the potential there, it’s the type of program that can be a force not just in the area but in the entire Inland Empire,” Bechtel said. “I don’t think winning will so much be the challenge here as it will be to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new philosophy.”
Bechtel has spent nearly his entire coaching career in the Inland Empire, beginning with a year as an assistant at Cajon in 1996 before spending 1997-2002 as the quarterbacks coach at Upland. He was hired in 2002 to be the offensive coordinator at Los Osos, where he remained save the 2008 season during which he was the Chaffey College offensive coordinator.
Bechtel was the head coach-in-waiting at Los Osos behind Tom Martinez, the Grizzlies’ inaugural head coach.
“My phone was blowing up all day with people asking me why I would leave if I was the next guy at Los Osos,” Bechtel said. “It was a tough decision – I’ve had other opportunities since I’ve been at Los Osos – but I felt like this was the perfect fit with my philosophy. Tom (Martinez) is a young man. He’s got plenty of years left and I didn’t want to be the one to push him out.”
During Bechtel’s six seasons at Los Osos, the Grizzlies won or shared four Baseline League championships. In four seasons under departed head coach Anthony Rice, who interviewed for the Pomona High School head football coaching job on Monday, Colony went 18-2 in the Mt. Baldy League. Bechtel was one of six candidates to interview for the Colony job on Friday.
“It was an easy decision for me,” Colony athletic director Jaime Sandoval said. “I felt and I think everybody else in the room felt like he is ready. Anthony (Rice) had a lot of success, so I think the question was: who is the person that can take us somewhere from there? Matt (Bechtel) was talking about eventually competing on the state level, talking about things like bowl games.”
Bechtel aspires for Colony to be mentioned in the same breath as Inland Empire football powers Corona Centennial and Norco, two schools farther South along Highway 15.
“No disrespect to the athletes in the Baseline League, they’ve produced a lot of Division-I players, but the geography has changed with the athletes running up and down the 15,” Bechtel said. “Colony isn’t right in the middle of that – it’s a little north – but it’s close. It’s been tapped at Colony but not fully tapped.”
Bechtel’s regimented plan to tap the resources in South Ontario made an impression on the interview panel at Colony. From offseason workouts to summer programs and, of course, in-season ideals, Bechtel’s blue print left an impression on Sandoval, among others.
“For someone so young to have such a vision and to be so structured,” Sandoval said, “it reminded me of my program when I used to coach way back when.”
Bechtel was admittedly torn about leaving Los Osos, where Martinez gave him his first coordinator position.
“Oh, yeah I wavered quite a bit,” Bechtel said. “I had two things pulling me in different directions. I had my loyalty to Los Osos pulling me in one direction and my loyalty to my personal goals pulling me in another direction.”