Arroyo Valley hasn’t had a winning record in football since 2009 when it finished 7-4. And the Hawks have won just six games total in the last four seasons.
That didn’t scare Jake Knesel, who thought he was ready for his first head football job and applied. He got the nod – Now the work begins.
Knesel and the Hawks are preparing for their Aug. 25 season opener against Fontana.
There is reason for optimism. Numbers are up with 85-90 players between the varsity and junior varsity teams. Knesel said he has corralled a bunch of extra players since school started a week ago.
Knesel, a 2007 graduate of Etiwanda, said he has watched film and he has been impressed with the athleticism of his players. The biggest challenge has been changing the mentality and instilling a worth ethic.
“I have heard they would have players miss practice and they would still be starting on Friday nights,” he said. “The biggest thing is making each players accountable and setting down some guidelines. Guys aren’t going to get away with things they have gotten away with in the past.”
The Hawks (2-8, 1-4 in 2016) were senior heavy so Knesel will boast a younger, more inexperienced squad. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it will give the new coach a chance to start fresh.
Another of the reasons for a better outlook – the junior varsity team went 8-2 last year and most of those players should be big contributors.
“”Those kids know what it’s like to win,” he said. “They can bring that confidence you have when you haven;t been part of those losing teams.”
Knesel, 28, most recently served as an assistant coach the last two years at Upland Christian but he has also been in the big school setting with stints as an assistant both at Etiwanda and Miller.
He said two seniors have set the tone for a better work ethic – lineman A.J. Ile and linebacker Daniel Estrada.
Junior quarterback Roland Pacheco will run the offense. Knesel said he prefers to keep the ball on the ground but that will depend on “what the defense gives us.”
Among the others Knesel is looking for big things from are junior wide receiver-defensive back Jacob Tkatch and senior defensive back-running back Chandler Rice and junior wide receiver-defensive back Jordan Boykin.
There are no holdovers from the previous coaching staff. Knesel said he will double as offensive coordinator while Marcus Austin, who played with him at Etiwanda, will serve as defensive coordinator.
ARROYO VALLEY SCHEDULE
Aug. 25 – Fontana
Aug. 31 – San Bernardino
Sept. 8 – At Colton
Sept. 15 – At Jurupa Valley
Sept. 22 – Ramona
Oct. 6 – At Rialto
Oct. 12 – Jurupa Hills
Oct. 20 – At Rim of the World
Oct. 27 – At Indlan Springs
Nov. 3 – San Gorgonio