Video: San Clemente football highlights Del Oro High School
See the Tritons' state title game from 2016.San Clemente (Calif.)
entered the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs as a No. 8 seed and parlayed that into a state title. And that's not easy in California, as after the section tournament there is a regional title game and then a state title game.
The Tritons played just one team with a lower seed on their way to the school's first state championship, including beating the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in their own stadiums.
Coach Jaime Ortiz shared some lessons he learned from his team's impressive 6-0 postseason run. 1. How did the staff feel about the No. 8 seed? Did you talk with the kids about the road to a championship?
As for the seeding, it really didn't seem to matter as at the end of the day, only one team will leave the tournament happy. In a way, we used it as motivation as we had the chance to beat the 1 and 2 seeds in their own stadium. We met as a team the Monday of the playoffs and I explained to the kids that we could go as far as they wanted. I told the kids that there was enough talent in our team room to make a run at a championship and at the end of the day it was about the phrase 'How do you want to be remembered?' We discussed bringing home a championship to San Clemente and we were able to bring home both a CIF and state title to #onetownoneteam.
2. How did you keep the kids focused in the three road games in the CIFSS playoffs?
As I said earlier, our players used it has a motivation. To beat Heritage, Murrieta Valley, Edison and Del Oro in their home stadiums was something that we talked about during our meetings and practice. We had a chip on our shoulder and had something to prove as a team. A lot of the media attention was focused on those teams for numerous reasons and our kids enjoyed flying under the radar.
3. What was the key to knocking off the No. 1 seed on the road?
Heritage was averaging close to 50 points a game and for us, it was about playing great defense and controlling the football. We knew we had to stop their run game in order to win and limit their big play capability and we were able to do that in order to secure the victory.4. What was the mindset of the staff and team entering the state playoffs?
We saw a great opportunity to play a quality Edison team and really soaked in the experience. It was a great battle of two public schools and was a great environment for high school football in their stadium. After we won that game, the mindset was "Well we have gone this far, let's make history again and win state!"5. Some folks are saying that 16 games is too many. What are your thoughts on that?
It was tough that last week as our Edison game (game 15) was very physical. We lightened up the load during practice week as our goal was to get our players 100 percent and to the championship game. Coaches need to understand that your team is the last man standing for a reason. The game needs to become more mental vs. physical at that point.
We spent more time in meetings reviewing films and going over tendencies versus practice out on the field. We would also reduce our contact team periods and replaced it with a half-speed walk through to go over assignments and responsibilities for the first two days of practice. In preparation for our state championship game, we only went full speed on Wednesday.
We did end practice on Tuesday with a Scout 11 on 11 period where we had our starters cheering from the sidelines as we went a best-of-five goal line period and went full live. The kids all loved it.6. What's your advice to a coach entering the playoffs as a low seed?
My advice would be to stay the course, bring an ax and start chopping down those trees in your way. Enjoy the experience and take one game at a time. No one in your program should be surprised when you start knocking off teams left and right.7. What's your advice to a coach who wants to win a state championship?
Be consistent in your values, beliefs and your mission statement. If you are consistent in those areas and your coaches, players, admin and parents buy in, you are off to a great start. I would also offer that as you make a run during the playoffs, keep the practices fun and enjoy the moment. Not too many teams get to play for a CIF championship and a state championship, so take the time to enjoy your coaches and players during that time.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.