The Aram Tolegian anniversary tour: Looking back at the resurrection of Bishop Amat football

As we celebrate the fourth-anniversary of the blog originator, Aram Tolegian, we’re looking back at some of his best topics throughout his one-year plus reign on the blog (2006-07), which brought out the best and worst of bloggers. On July 2, 2006, Aram wrote the five things Bishop Amat needed to do to turnaround its football program. It’s interesting how everything has unfolded since, and fun to look back now. At the time, Mark Verti was replacing Mike DiFiori after the Lancers went 6-4, but were 2-3 in the Serra league and missed the playoffs. Here is Aram’s No. 1, click the thread for 4-5.

Aram, July 2, 20061 . Hire a name coach – This one is completely off the books now, but it’s worth repeating. I am not saying Mark Verti isn’t going to do a good job. Nobody has a clue about him yet. But the school had a wide open door of opportunity after Mike DiFiori resigned, and they hired from within. Great.
Verti could either be the find of a lifetime or a 20-something-year-old gamble that sends Amat fans off the deep end. Not exactly the predicament most fans wanted to be in, but hey. Here’s the thing Verti has going for him. His youth can be played two ways. He’s either too young to handle such a position or he’s the young guy who relates to the players. No matter how you feel about himt, Verti is a former UCLA football player and he’s got that on any other local coach. He knows what it takes to go from Amat to the big-time. He can wield his connections to the next level as something that gets kids to Amat because the coach can help them to the next level.

2. Field turf – Uh … I don’t care how much it costs … the cash wasn’t spent on a coach, so put in a nice field. Amat’s field is already solid, but some artificial stuff would give the impression that the school is a cutting edge athletic institution. The new gym/weight room/locker room/coaching offices were a step in the right direction. When some kid comes to Amat to watch a game, he should see a state of the art field that will get him excited to possibly play there.

3. Throw rocks at South Hills, Los Altos and Charter Oak high schools until they crumble – Why go to Amat for $ 4-5 Gs per year when you can find a loophole and go to one of these schools for free?
“Gee lil Billy, you want to go play for Steve Bogan, Greg Gano, Lou Farrar or Mark Verti?”
And when the kid asks “Who’s Mark Verti?” … see No. 5 (below)

4. Website – isn’t cutting it. Most of the top football programs in SoCal have a website, Amat does not. Some of you might say “The Tribune’s website is basically Amat’s, so what’s the point:?” Hahaha, very funny, but I want to read how the team did in its passing league games, linemen competitions and any other endeavors.
On that note, the football program needs to work better with the media. You know how many long conversations I’ve had with Gano, Bogan, Farrar, Mark Pasquarella, Mike Maggiore and Jim Singiser? Too many to count. Access to those programs might as well be an open door for the Tribune. I’ve talked to Verti once. Granted, it’s still early. But I know what guys in my position have gone through in the past.
I’ve always had the vibe that those associated with Amat’s football program feel as though it’s the media’s privelege to cover them and not the other way around. Truth is, it’s 50/50 – it’s the Tribune’s privelege to cover the teams it does and it’s the said team’s privelege to get covered.
I do not feel that way with any of the other sports programs at Amat. The world-renowned Amat girls hoops team has been made readily available by coach Richard Wiard. And I’m talking non-stop features during the week leading up to a state championship gam. Think about how distracting that can be.

5. Promote the past – As each day passes, the school’s glorious past gets further and further away. Amat has relied on name and rep way too long … but if you’re going to do that, then do it well. It’s time to show today’s teenagers what Amat’s program is/was all about. Since tantalizing them with CIF title runs and league titles is not really an option anymore, how about making some of the stars of the past more visible?
The kids of today are growing up with a different Amat than I had during my not-so-long-ago childhood. When I was in HS, Amat games were a freak show. My boys and I went to games to see who the latest freak was carrying the ball for Amat. We weren’t Amat fans at all, but we wanted to see the spectacle. I got to see Scott Fields, Rodney Sermons and others. I also got to see Amat make deep runs in the playoffs. Those games vs. Loyola were priceless.
I interviewed Ralph Brown III last year for an NFL playoffs story. I asked him all about what it was like to play for Amat back in the day. He said he can still remember what it felt like just to be the starting tailback at Amat. He said it was similar to thinking about being an NFL player. The reason Brown feels this way is because he grew up watching all the guys who played the position before him, and to be the next in line was probably a mind blowing experience. Who do the SGV football prospects of today point to and say they want to be like – Shaun Cody? Brigham Harwell? Bryan Payton? Daniel Drayton? Patrick Fuller? Bret Lockett?
I am willing to bet most teenaged SGV football prospects know about Cody and not Brian Russell.

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