After nearly six months of waiting, redrafting job ads and indecision, Colton High School decided that it was best to not mess with a good thing.
The Yellowjackets selected from within the Colton football family to replace Harold Strauss Thursday, as it hired longtime assistant coach Rick Bray. Bray, who has been an assistant at Colton for 21 of the past 25 years, including the entirety of Strauss’ tenure, was approved at Thursday’s Colton Unified School District school board meeting.
“I’m happy to finally get someone in here,” Strauss said. “After five and a half months of waiting and redrafting, its finally good to have someone in here – especially someone who will make the tranisition as smooth as possible.”
Except for four years as an assistant at San Gorgonio, Bray, 57, has been a Colton lifer. He has filled just about every possible assistant position that is available in high school football according to Strauss.
“He’s been an offensive coordinator for me, a defensive coordinator, worked on special teams,” Strauss said. “He’s worked on the offensive line, defensive line – you name it, he’s probably coached it at one time. He’s just never had the opportunity to be the guy in charge until now.”
Bray has been honored for his work at an assistant, winning the Gibbsdear Award for best assistant coach in the Southern Section. He wasn’t sure if that would ever translate into a head-coaching job though.
“I kind of thought that I would just be an assistant forever,” Bray said. “I really wasn’t sure if this day would come. I’m just happy because we can continue to do what has been successful here and hopefully keep what coach Strauss had going.”
The last five-plus months have been harrowing for Bray, who applied when the job was opened the first time shortly after Colton lost to Rancho Cucamonga in the CIF-SS Central Division quarterfinals. Bray stuck with the search even after the original job posting was taken down and revised.
“I feel like a 50-pound weight has been lifted from my back,” Bray said. “I wanted this job really bad and I wasn’t sure if it would happen. Now I’m wondering what I’m getting myself in to.”
Bray will have his share of help. He indicated that the Colton players gave a hearty cheer when he announced that he was being hired for the job and will retain many of the coaches and schemes that has put Colony among the county’s elite.
“Our philosophy will be the same as it was before,” Bray said. “There may be a wrinkle here and there, but we want to keep as much continuity as possible.”