BY: CHACE BRYSON
One of the best assignments I ever had in my 10 years of working at the Contra Costa Times was the three football seasons I spent as the De La Salle High football beat writer. Covering the program on a weekly basis allowed me to see the program’s success from a vantage point that I wish others could see.
As I watched games and practices each week and spent extended time around the coaching staff, it was clear to me — as it has been to many others who have had the same opportunity — that the pro- gram is much less about athletes and sport and much more about people and growth. Everyone — coaches and players — moves in one direction, together.
This is the obvious trickle down effect of coach Bob Ladouceur and the philosophy he set in place there and built upon for 34 years before stepping aside last January.
From that day in early January when Ladouceur stepped down, I’ve had no less than 100 people ask me if I thought there would be any drop-off or change under new coach Justin Alumbaugh. And from Day One, I’ve answered an emphatic “No.” Perhaps a few play calls would change in different scenarios, and a different person would be answering postgame questions, but that would be it.
Because as long as the coaching staff remained in place (and even Ladouceur was sticking around) the team’s preparedness, execution and trademark improvement over the course of a season, would undoubtedly remain.
On the occasion of Alumbaugh’s first game in charge, I asked him if I could return and shadow him over the course of the day. It was my hope to shed some light on what the inner workings of the De La Salle football machine worked like, and put a human face on the new man leading the way. I hope that I accomplished that.
Bay Area Edition readers can find the story on page 14. If you’re holding a Sac-Joaquin Edition, you can still find the story at SportStarsOnline.com.
There was one particular moment from the Aug. 30 game against Clayton Valley Charter-Concord which did not make it into the story. It was a perfect example of how the coaching staff operates, and will continue to operate — not to win games, but to teach young adults.
Late in the second half, Clayton Valley Charter was driving in an attempt to keep the game close when Spartans safety Das Tautalatasi intercepted a pass and streaked up the sideline heading for an obvious pick six. With Tautalatasi just steps from the end zone and no chance of being caught, a junior linebacker for De La Salle decided to throw one last block about 30 yards away from the play. The block drew an appropriate flag for unnecessary roughness and the Clayton Valley player had to be helped off the field.
The De La Salle coaches made it clear to the linebacker he was not going back into the game. But afterward, in the coaches office, defensive coordinator Terry Eidson informed Alumbaugh that the linebacker had already been told he was to write a letter of apology.
It was a small thing. But that is what De La Salle’s success derives from. Constant attention to small things with one bigger picture in mind.
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.