Don’t prejudge the Swordsmen

Coach Pete Gonzalez leaned back in his chair and smiled.

The question concerned how he felt about his teams very difficult football schedule this season.
He paused, then leaned forward and spoke softly.

We know its going to be a challenge,? he said. But thats what we do at St. Paul. We teach boys to accept challenges.?

Gonzalez knows about challenges. Hes in the middle of one one right now, and while he doesnt look at it this way, hes not playing on an even field.

At age 41, after 15 years as an assistant coach, Gonzalez is a head coach for the first time. And not the head coach at just any old school.

Gonzalez replaced Marijon Ancich, a southland coaching legend who, with 344 victories, is Californias winningest high school football coach.
Gonzalez spent the last seven years as an assistant under Ancich, so he knew what accepting the job entailed.
It means dealing with the illustrious tradition that Ancich helped develop in more than 30 years at the helm. It could be compared to Gene Bartow replacing John Wooden, and Tommy Lasorda taking the reins from Walter Alston.

Gonzalez also knew he wasnt the first choice in the minds of many of the Swordsmen faithful.
He heard how they wanted a former St. Paul player, and although in the seventh and eighth grades Gonzalez wanted to attend St. Paul, he ended up at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary.

He knew there would be resentment with his selection, doubt concerning his ability and second guessing his decisions.
In his mind, however, it all merely comes with the territory. Most important, he knew the territory was worth it.

One thing stuck in his mind.
I felt that working the past six years with a coach like Marijon qualified me for the position,? he said. Not only did I learn from him about football, but he taught me the ins and outs of the program.?

Gonzalez, who also is the dean of boys, does not initiate talk about what has been said concerning his hiring. He prefers to concentrate on current situations, todays practice, on how the program is progressing and looking ahead to the impending challenges.

He calls continuing the traditions? a priority, but adds that its not just about football.

Its about the total growth of the athlete,? Gonzalez said, academically, developing self discipline, preparing them to go on to the next level.?

Gonzalez said his philosophy is the same as Ancichs.

It isnt how big or fast you are but how hard you play,? Gonzalez says. I tell the kids, if you want to play, take someones spot.

For the Swordsmen, it will be a tough road ahead.

Gonzalez speaks highly of the support he has received from the community and the commiment exhibited by the coaches and players, but there are naysayers who will expect, maybe even want them to fail, waiting to say told you so.?

And winning a game here and there, even against the powerhouses that lay in wait, probably wont be enough to change their minds, at least not soon.

Wouldnt it seem more prudent to give Gonzalez and his program a chance by watching it in action and judging it by performance and not whether it wins but by how hard the players play?

Gonzalez would be quick to emphasize this is not going to be a pity party for him, nor will there by an Oh woe is me? cry from him.

On the contrary. With all the necessary hard work, he has had neither time nor inclination for such reactions. The past is the past, and whats done is done. He is moving forward with confidence in the prospects for success.

While waiting for the games to begin, consider that Ancich recommended Gonzalez for the job. If Ancich felt that way, why cant his faithful respect his opinion?

Were not talking about seeking a favor here, were talking about fairness.

But maybe thats too much to expect.

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  • scj

    The guy is in a no-win situtation. If they don’t win, everyone will say “See, we told you so”. If they win, it’ll be “Of course, they won, look at the team that he was left with”.

    It’ll probably be a few years before he can completely shake those chains but he knew what he was getting into so he’ll be fine.

    The important thing is that he’s got the committment of the players and the coaches and that will take the program a long way.

  • scj

    OK….I’m putting my prediction in early…..

    St. Paul 21
    Bishop Amat 17

    Go Swordsmen!

  • dennis maldonado

    im going to the st paul- Amat game on Friday-i hope they keep playing in preseason games for years to come-it is a great rivalry. I believe they should be in the same league. I think Amat will win but it should be a good game. What is your prediction?

  • murray

    He probably has considered the “no-win situation,” but he is willing to deal with the early criticism because he sees potential for success on the horizon.

  • murray

    To DM:
    Not only is it hoped the St. Paul and Bishop Amat will continue to polayeach year, but hopefully St. Paul will be able to get games with La Habra, La Mirada, La Serna and any other area team. Good for the area, good for the teams.
    Although Amat is rebuilding under a new coach, they have a fine QB and a big-time LB to lead them.
    St. Paul has many talented but untried players. My heart says St. Paul, because it’s the local, but common sense says, …. well, you figure it out.

  • Taylor Boyd

    St Paul is going to have a ruff year and it is going to start with Amat. Amat wins not by much tough.

  • dennis maldonado

    my prediction – Amat 21 St. Paul 10 – anyone out there know if the teams will continue to play a preseason series after this year? One other top local game this week-Los Altos vs. South Hills – prediction LA 28 SH 21

  • scj


    St. Paul shoulda won because they were the better team.

    St. Paul coulda won if they could of held Amat at the end.

    St. Paul woulda won if they eliminate the dozen plus penalties and the 4? turnovers?

  • dennis maldonado

    i went to the st. paul-amat game. Very poorly played game. many mistakes and neither team looked very good. I believe both teams will struggle all year long although st. paul is in a weak league so they may win a few games in league. This was probably the worst game played in this rivalry.