Western Christian hired Kevin Oberlander as its new head football coach Wednesday after Scotty Kirkpatrick stepped down following the 2010 season. Oberlander has served as quarterback coach and assistant offensive coordinator the last three years for a La Habra Whittier Christian program that reached the CIF-SS Mid-Valley finals last season and the semifinals in 2009.
Western Christian compiled a 4-16 record the past two seasons under Kirkpatrick, who stepped down to spend more time with his family. Whittier Christian’s record over the past two years is a combined 21-6.
Oberlander is a native of Atwater and played at Trinity University, an NAIA school outside of Chicago, where he coached after a stint playing arena football in Omaha, Neb. Oberlander’s wife graduated from Western Christian in 2002.
“For a young coach, he brings a lot of experience from the college level to his most recent experience at Whittier Christian High School.” Western Christian athletic director Nick Karavedas said. “Coach Oberlander understands that building a quality football program begins with building quality young men. We’re excited about what he brings and for the future of Western Christian football.”
Ontario Christian High School football coach Laing Stevens doesn’t think he’ll have a difficult time keeping his team from feeling overconfident the final two games of the season. Starting the year with six losses in seven games can have that effect.
A year after reaching the CIF-SS East Valley Division championship game Ontario Christian began the 2010 season 1-6 before winning its first Ambassador League game Friday, a 36-7 defeat of Western Christian.
“We had a dry spell and we won a game but I don’t think there’s any reason for us to get cocky,” Stevens said. “We played a hard schedule this year but that wasn’t a 1-6 schedule. There’s probably not a team we played other than Whittier Christian that we couldn’t play with.”
Compiling statistics as the season went along last year, Mike Mendoza and Christian Solis made themselves impossible to ignore. Then a sophomore and junior, respectively, at Western Christian, the quarterback-receiver duo kept topping the statistical charts we compile each week at the Daily Bulletin. When it was all said and done in 2009, Mendoza threw for 1,600 yards and Solis, who missed the final three games with an injury, had 35 receptions for 612 yards and five touchdowns.
Once these two had my attention last year, Western Christian entered Christian League play, which was not kind to their statistics. Coach Scotty Kirkpatrick is hoping that will change this year, though the new Ambassador League – which includes the former Christian League – is tougher with the addition of CIF champion Linfield Christian. If the Lancers are to enter the playoff picture after a 1-9 season last year, it will likely be on the strength of their skill players.
Ontario Christian lost five of its first six games last season, cycled through three offenses (and three QBs), scrambled to fill out a lineup thanks to a multitude of injuries and still the Knights reached the CIF-SS East Valley championship game. No matter the circumstances, it’s hard to count out OCHS.
It’s easy to count the Knights in this year. Despite returning just seven starters, head coach Laing Stevens thinks this team is faster, stronger, deeper and more athletic than the squad that lost the championship game by just six points to a St. Margaret’s team Aquinas coach Nick Matheny labeled “one of the best small school football programs in California.”