All coaches and teams are facing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new Cabrillo football coach Shane Gonzales has had a uniquely difficult ride these last few months.
Gonzales was an assistant at Mayfair for the last six years as part of a rising Monsoons program that has produced several national-level recruits, including Texas signee Chris Adimora. Gonzales, a PE teacher, was looking for a head coaching opportunity that would also come with an on-campus job.
“I’d never really applied anywhere but the opportunity presented itself with Cabrillo,” he said.
Gonzales, who put his application in shortly before the pandemic forced closures of schools throughout Southern California.
“The lockdown hit and I completely forgot everything,” said Gonzales. “I was thrown for a loop. I got a call out of the blue and it was the athletic director, he said they wanted to interview me.”
Gonzales emailed his portfolio in and did a series of zoom interviews with school administration and an interview panel, and was hired shortly after. The problem was, the school’s administration was shut down and couldn’t process his hire or clear him.
“Everything was shut down, they weren’t doing fingerprints at the time,” he said. “It was two months from when I was hired until I could actually officially meet the kids. It’s been kind of crazy.”
Two months of stagnation is a body blow for a program like Cabrillo’s, and Gonzales said it’s been a struggle. His introduction to his team had to be done virtually, and he said there were around 30 players and parents in digital attendance.
It took a while for him to get ahold of the team’s official roster from last year, so when he was reviewing film initially he was jotting down roster numbers. As the team has been allowed to start in-person conditioning workouts, the Jaguars have had several players unable to attend because they’re working to support their families.
The Jags’ roster numbers are still in the 30s, and Gonzales said a good chunk of those are ninth and tenth graders. His players were also heartbroken that the new CIF Southern Section schedule for the year placed football and boys’ volleyball at the same time, since most of the school’s Polynesian athletes play both sports.
“Their hearts just hit the floor when they heard that,” said Gonzales.
Despite all of those challenges, Gonzales and the Jags are focused on overcoming the adversity and having a great year. Returning players like QB Justin Adele and lineman Marcel Johnson figure to help that happen.
“We’re taking it one day at a time and just trying to build,” said Gonzales. “My expectations are to have a successful year–that may not translate to an amazing record, but we want to change the culture and get the kids bought in. We want to make it a special year for the seniors. Our kids are thirsty for success.”
Cabrillo Football 2020-21 Schedule
1/8 @ Newport Harbor
1/15 vs. Glenn
1/22 vs. Sierra Vista
1/29 vs. Lakewood (@ Millikan)
2/5 @ Wilson
2/12 @ Salesian
2/19 vs. Poly
2/26 vs. Jordan
3/5 @ Millikan
3/12 vs. Compton