Mike Collins was an institution at Claremont, heading the school’s football program for more than two decades. But he resigned during the off-season and the program is now in the hands of Jose Jarin, who had been on the staff the previous three years.
But there will not be a massive overhaul. In fact, most of Collins’ long-time assistants are staying on. Jarin couldn’t be more happy. Among those staying on is Terrance Lynch who will coach running backs and had served as Collins’ right-hand man.
Milo Epling will serve as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator while Ryan Capuzamo will be offensive coordinator. Both were on Collins’ staff for most of his tenure.
“This is like walking into the perfect home,” Jarin said. “The guys have all been great.”
There are plenty of quality players back too, enough that Jarin thinks his team could factor into the Palomares League race.
Among those coming back is junior running back Duy Tran-Sampson, who rushed for 1,525 yards and 14 touchdowns last year as a sophomore.
Among the other key offensiv e players returning are senior fullback Markelle Davis as well as three senior linemen, Conner Tolliver, Anthony Russo and Jonathan Gonzalez.
Claremont has always lived and died with its ground game but there is potential to throw with the arrival of new quarterback Raine Pohaku Paiva, a transfer from Paloma Valley who threw for 1,471 yards last year.
Top targets for the new signal caller will include senior Cameron Gray as well as sophomore newcomer Ben Lynch, son of the Claremont assistant, who caught 28 touchdown passes last year for the freshman team.
Jarin also expects good things from tight end Max Shapiro who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
“We’re going to add a dimension Claremont football hasn’t had in awhile,” Jarin said. “We’re excited about the potential we have and some of things we think we’ll be able to do.”
Top defenders will include sophomore linebacker Soloman Tuillapupu, who will replaced the graduated James Stephens, senior corner Mato Pacheco, defensive end Kamren Brown, junior end Ricky Sandoval and senior linebacker Damien Cannon.
Jarin also singled out kicker Jacob Olesniewicz, whom he expects to be one of the area’s best.