Video: Recap - Charter Oak vs. Damien, 2016
See Charter Oak in action last season.
I have been tracking every single head football coaching change in Southern California over the course of the last two seasons. By the time we kick off in August of this year, we will have changed out almost 40 percent of the head coaches in Southern California. There were 632 football-playing schools in Southern California in 2016.
The Hacienda League has six teams. Four of these teams will have a brand-new head coach in 2017. One that will not is Charter Oak (Covina, Calif.)
. In fact, they haven't had a new head coach since 1985 - Lou Farrar will enter his 32nd season as the Chargers' head man.
Farrar is a dying breed.
He started as a freshman coach in 1967 at Damien (La Verne, Calif.)
. After getting a teaching credential (and married), he was hired by the Charter Oak Unified School District where he coached at Royal Oak High for 11 years before moving to Charter Oak due to a closure Royal was closed. So, he has been with the same district for 43 years.
What is the secret to staying in one place for more than 4 decades?
"It's my home. I have been here since I was 15 years old and enrolled as a freshman. I attended Charter Oak from 1960-1964. My wife went to Charter Oak and so did my son and daughter. Also my three sisters. It's where all my family has grown up and lived in the neighborhood," Farrar said.
Coach Farrar did get the itch to move to the college level back in the 1970s. He wanted to explore the greener grass on the other side of the fence. So, he coached at Chaffey College for five seasons in nearby Rancho Cucamonga. He enjoyed that opportunity and definitely grew as a coach, however it involved a whole lot of juggling his schedule and a lot of speeding out of the high school parking lot to get to the college.
"As the years have passed I have had some opportunities to go to the next level with coaches I knew. But my family's security always bothered me from leaving. Even in the last five to eight years some pretty interesting offers have come from other schools in our area. But this is my home," said Farrar.
His thoughts about home also spill over when discussing his assistants.
"The standing commentary is they all either played for me or are related to me. What used to be was a staff of three varsity coaches, two JV and two frosh has today grown into 19-20. I also know that some schools have more than that in our Southern Section area. If you count up coaching experience of each coach, we have over 156 years of coaching experience at the Varsity level, and 18-19 years at each of the JV and frosh levels.
"As far as our lower levels go, only three of the nine did not play for me. So like me, most of my coaches I've known since they were student-athletes here at Charter Oak. The key to hiring them has always been watching them play and seeing them develop as young men. Also after they are out of school, it gives you a great insight to their personalities and relationships.
"You can watch them and know that someday that kid would make a great coach. Each of them knows our program. What are our expectations are, what our traditions are, and what goals we have each season. Also we all live literally just doors from each other. My son is next door to me, my special teams/DB coach is three doors down from him, and across the street from him our OL coach is there. Across the street from me some freshman coaches, around the corner two other coaches, the Perri brothers. Thus our families all know each other, wives and kids and family relatives."
That continuity stands out when compared with trends in other programs.
"Just in our Hacienda League, every school but Charter Oak has a new head coach. Only one is a one-year returner. I think this makes it difficult for not only the players but their families also. They don't know what to expect. They don't know who to call and talk to or to go to for help. Today's coaching title also comes with a lot of the field issues and responsibilities. When kids see one coach leave for whatever reasons and they wait around for another guy to step in, they feel abandonment.
"They probably have had to deal with that at home. They shouldn't have to feel that as part of the football team. We call it our football family. If you come into it, you are in for life. We are home. It's a place when you knock on the door, they have to let you in. The football field is our sanctuary. For a few hours every day a kid can count on coaches and players who support them and care about them. Every kid desires that kind of environment. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.