“People might say it took too long, and I understand that part, but the thing we wanted to do on this campus was not settle. We did a lot of background and the new coach just needed to fit. Jim is a fit. He encompasses all the qualities we think are extremely important to lead young men.” — Los Altos athletic director Steve Garcia
“I’m very aware of the pressure. Just because they’ve had some down years doesn’t mean the expectations are lower. They expect a lot and I expect a lot. I know there’s going to be big-time pressure and expectations. I understand the program and the tradition and pride involved. It’s a challenge, but I’m up for it.” — Los Altos coach Jim Arellanes.
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
The long wait and grueling process of finding a new football coach is finally over for Los Altos High School. The school introduced Jim Arellanes, formerly of Northview, as its new coach on Monday afternoon, ending months of speculation about who would replace Felipe Aguilar, who resigned following the 2009 season. (To continue, click thread).
“People might say it took too long, and I understand that part, but the thing we wanted to do on this campus was not settle,” Los Altos athletic director Steve Garcia said. “We did a lot of background and the new coach just needed to fit. Jim is a fit. He encompasses all the qualities we think are extremely important to lead young men.”
Arellanes, 36, was at Northview the past four seasons where he went 21-22 and won or shared two Valle Vista League titles in his first head coaching job after stints as an assistant at El Rancho and Rosemead.
Arellanes inherits a program that has fallen on hard times in recent years since the departure of Greg Gano, who won four CIF-Southern Section titles at the school. Aguilar was 4-16 in his two seasons.
“I’m very aware of the pressure,” Arellanes said. “Just because they’ve had some down years doesn’t mean the expectations are lower. They expect a lot and I expect a lot. I know there’s going to be big-time pressure and expectations. I understand the program and the tradition and pride involved. It’s a challenge, but I’m up for it.”
Arellanes said he was originally contacted about the position in January. He declined the overture then, but had second thoughts after former St. John Bosco coach Kiki Mendoza turned down the job in late February.
“When it was offered to Kiki and he turned it down, I thought maybe it happened for a reason,” Arellanes said. “They called me again and I thought I’d take a look again. It was flattering to be considered at a legendary school like that.”
Los Altos hasn’t had a winning season since Gano’s final year in 2006. With some area pundits thinking that Los Altos’ best years are in the past, the hiring process was not easy for Garcia. Arellanes, though, said his own research turned up promising feedback from those he asked about the state of the program.
“Some people were in my ear saying don’t do it,” Arellanes said. “But I started my process by calling some people I trusted, and I heard the exact opposite. They said the place could still be the same 11-time champion program if you put the work in. I listened and formulated my own opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to take work.
“We played those kids the past two years and even in down years they were still pretty good.”
Given the task of fixing things, Arellanes says he’s begun the process of building a coaching staff to do just that.
“I’d be foolish to think I could go in there and turn things around by myself,” Arellanes said. “We’re forming a pretty good staff.”
With Arellanes gone, Northview will immediately begin the search to replace him, Vikings athletic director David Ochoa said.
“I talked to my principal at the end of last week about the possibility of this happening,” Ochoa said. “My principal wants me to have a new coach in place as soon as possible. We’re not in a scrambling situation. We have some really good people here on staff who will continue to keep the football team program running.
“Coach Arellanes worked here for four years and did a very good job. For his personal reasons, he’s taking another opportunity and we wish him the very best.”