Here’s my column from Friday, in case you missed it.
Death, taxes and Arroyo and Rosemead being good in football.
You can thank God, Uncle Sam, Jim Singiser and Matt Koffler for that.
Are there two better coaches in the Valley than Singiser and Koffler? Equal to? Absolutely. But I’m talking truly better coaches, the kind who get the same type of talent every year, never get impact transfers yet post winning seasons on a seemingly annual basis.
The short answer is there aren’t, and that’s saying something because I’m not sure there’s a region anywhere in the Southland that crams so many good coaches into one area like our cozy little Valley does.
At the end of the day, the Farrars, Bogans, Ganos, Zernickows and Maggiores of our Valley will dominate the headlines. They’ve won CIF titles, league titles and put their respective programs on the map.
You won’t hear enough about Koffler and Singiser, though. But when Arroyo and Rosemead meet tonight, it will mark the umpteenth time in forever that their programs have met for the Mission Valley League title. Both teams still have three games after this but let’s be honest with each other, this is for the title.
It seems not enough credit is given these days for consistent success. But consistent success eludes just as many programs as CIF titles do. Just not at Arroyo and Rosemead, however, where winning seasons are the norm.
Weak competition, you say? Not exactly. Since 2000, Rosemead has wins over Diamond Ranch, Monrovia, San Dimas and South Hills, to name a few. The Panthers have been to the semifinals and a championship game in that span, too.
In that same period, Arroyo has won five league titles, including not losing a league game for three consecutive seasons, and has been to the semifinals once. The Knights have made the playoffs every year since 1984.
“When we play teams that look like us, we do well,” Koffler said. “We have gained our opponents’ respect over the past 10 years. We can’t sneak up on anybody anymore.”
But the true proof of success of Koffler and Singiser’s success isn’t all about wins and losses. Both coaches have successfully implemented schemes their teams run with precision year in and out no matter whose name is on the back of the jersey. And those systems couldn’t be more opposite.
At Rosemead, Koffler came to the realization he isn’t going to out-athlete anybody with his homegrown talent. So, the obvious move was to tailor a brand of football around the tough and gritty kids who attend Rosemead.
That meant a power running game, a defense that loves to leave marks and strong special teams. Barring injury, Rosemead running back Matt Fregoso will become the 12th Panthers tailback in a row to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Singiser takes a different approach. It’s a stubborn one because polished quarterbacks don’t exactly grow on trees in El Monte. But that hasn’t stopped Arroyo from annually having one of the better passing attacks around and it doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback.
This year, it’s Steven Rivera. A few years ago it was Brian Partida. Before that it was Dominic Salmon. Again, the names change but the numbers and explosiveness do not. It takes a certain degree of coaching acumen to annually run a successful spread with the type of talent Arroyo starts with.
“If you look at our two programs, we both take paths we believe are suited to the kids we have,” Singiser said. “If Matt (Koffler) didn’t have good running backs and good-sized linemen every year, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.
“And for us, we’re fortunate to have had some quarterbacks come through who happen to be the smartest guys in the program. It’s probably a lot easier to find a hard-nosed running back in El Monte than it is to find a legit, quality quarterback. But I firmly believe Steven (Rivera) would start at just about any school in the Valley.”
Nobody throws more during the summer than Arroyo and nobody probably spends more time lifting weights in the offseason than Rosemead. When the schools meet tonight, it will be a battle of similar-size talent using two different styles with the same hopes of winning the league title.
Some years back I wrote a column questioning Koffler’s coaching ability. I was wrong about that. What he’s done isn’t easy. Same with Singiser. Most programs don’t win. Others wait several years between winning spurts, then go back into mediocrity. It’s not like that at Arroyo and Rosemead, where winning is a constant and mediocrity doesn’t exist.
CIF titles are nice, but they aren’t always the only indicators of who the best coaches are. Winning consistently might be a measuring stick. Get to Arroyo High tonight and see two guys who do it as good as anybody.