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Windsor High Players Offer Similar Thoughts When Sharing Keys To Their 7-0 Start In Legendary Coach Paul Cronin’s First Year With The Program •... Pushing Passion | Windsor Football Has Bought In

Windsor High Players Offer Similar Thoughts When Sharing Keys To Their 7-0 Start In Legendary Coach Paul Cronin’s First Year With The Program •

Why has the transition to new head coach Paul Cronin resulted in a 7-0 start for the Windsor High football team?

Senior quarterback Chase Vehmeyer doesn’t need long to think of his answer.

“It’s passion, really,” Vehmeyer said. “He makes you want it more than anything.”

But that’s just the party line, right? 

Surely there is some schematic element, some version of Xs and Os that Cronin brought with him from all the success he enjoyed at perennial power Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa that now serves as the perfect key to unlock a treasure trove of talent.

So we’ll ask again – why have the Jaguars adjusted so quickly and so well under their new coach?


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“He’s a coach everyone wants to play for,” said freshman receiver/defensive back Hayden Anderson. “Because he works as hard as us, if not harder, on everything he does.”

Windsor, Football, Makhi Johnson, Hayden Anderson
Windsor receivers Makhi Johnson, left, and Hayden Anderson. (Ben Enos photos)

Seemingly everyone in black and gold can repeat some version of that same refrain, and those answers underscore exactly what is going right for Windsor as it prepares for its final games of the season. The Jaguars were slated to host Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa for a North Bay League-Oak Division showdown on Friday at 7 p.m, though the game was called off late Thursday afternoon due to COVID-19 issues. Both teams would have entered the contest a perfect 2-0 in league play and in a three-way tie with Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park atop the standings. Rancho Cotate faces both teams over the final two weeks of the regular season.

When Cronin made the difficult decision to leave Cardinal Newman after 18 years at the helm, he did so with his eyes set squarely on a new challenge. What didn’t change were his guiding principles when it comes to establishing a culture of success.

“You get trust every time you go in and think about the right things, which isn’t the scoreboard and isn’t about the other stuff,” Cronin said after a recent win over Benicia. “It’s about playing hard, being great with your eyes, focusing on the right things. So, every time you have success with that, you get more trust. It’s a hard thing to do.”

While outsiders see what happens on Friday nights as the measure of Windsor’s success, those inside the program don’t need points and stats to make the same point.

That’s a mentality that comes from a head coach who has never been one to let wins and losses outweigh the opportunities being provided to the young men he is charged with guiding. 

“I really like the way coach Cronin coaches. He’s an amazing guy. You can tell he really cares about his team,” senior running back Damian Escarcega said. “And, he’s a really smart dude. We noticed that quickly. You can tell from how we’ve been doing this year that it’s really effective.”

Of course, while the Jaguars keep the focus away from the numbers, that doesn’t make their prolific production any less impressive.

As the senior leader of an offense averaging almost 48 points per game, Vehmeyer’s evolution into one of Northern California’s top quarterbacks has been a big reason for the Jaguars’ success. Through seven games, he owns an impressive 78.6 completion percentage, averages 243.3 yards per game and has thrown 17 touchdowns to just one interception. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 333 yards and six touchdowns.

Windsor, Football, Chase Vehmeyer
Windsor quarterback Chase Vehmeyer walks the sideline during halftime of the Jaguars win at Benicia. (Ben Enos photo)

Vehmeyer has plenty of help. Escarcega has four 100-yard games en route to 749 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Senior Makhi Johnson leads the team in receptions (24), receiving yards (604) and receiving touchdowns (eight). Anderson has 21 catches, 536 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

And want to know the truly impressive part for what lies ahead? Through seven weeks, Windsor isn’t close to being a finished product. With more time together comes more development in both players and coaches, and Cronin points to the hard work put in by his entire staff as a key to his team’s quick success.

As they continue to refine their attack, the Jaguars and their coach gain a little more trust in one another. If early returns are any indication, it’s a relationship that looks destined to produce more success.

When answers come easily, so often do wins.

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Ben Enos

Ben Enos is a freelance journalist who has previously worked for Bay Area News Group and within the University of California Athletics Department.

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