By Peter SkrumbisÂ
Q: Whatâs it like moving from Louisiana to Southern California?
A: Even though my wife, Phyllis, and I are New Orleans natives, we have also been coaching nomads. No humidity is a huge plus, however.
Q: Was this transition from Louisiana hard for you and your family?
A: Since our daughters and grandchildren live here, it was inevitable that we would move here at some point.
Q: What was your first impression of Harvard-Westlake and what was your first impression of the kids youâll be coaching?
A: I was immediately impressed by the beauty of the campus and the commitment to both academic and athletic excellence.
Q: Now about football, I know that Southern California produces great players and has some great high school programs; do you think your transition will be difficult at all?
A: Once on the field, football is the same everywhere. The question is to see how quickly we can mesh coaching, effort and performance to the practice and game fields.
Q: What do you feel the teamâs strengths are?
A: Weâre flexible, we can run the football and we have the ability to throw it. We get John Howe â07 back, a veteran quarterback. We feel heâs a field general who is a good quarterback package that will make good decisions and get the ball to the right people.
Q: In terms of what experience you can bring to the field, have you mainly been a defensively oriented coach or an offensively oriented coach in the past?
A:For my whole coaching career, I have either been a defensive coordinator, defensive line coach or linebackers coach. I coached some offense in high school earlier in my career, but my background is predominately defense and Iâve been fortunate as a head coach to have excellent offensive coordinators.
Q: Iâve looked at your previous coaching jobs and I noticed youâve been involved with several NCAA Division I schools including Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette. Are there any ideas or schemes you plan to use here?
A: Many of those schemes have already been put in place by Coach Dave Levy, our offensive coordinator and Terrence Johnson, our defensive coordinator. They both were here last year and have great relationships with our team members. We will certainly tweak certain areas that will better fit our present talents. There are many right ways of doing it, but finding the correct methods for this group is the challenge.
Q: Last year, Harvard-Westlake seemed to give up a lot of points. What kind of system do you think youâll run and how do you look to improve a defense that was suspect last year under a different coach?
A: I thought the defense played very hard last year, but did give up some big plays. That is the key for any team. When players go both ways, they slow down and on defense the offense can take advantage of the change. We were not as fast as the teams I watched us play. Thus, when you make small errors, they turn into big plays against you. With more experienced players, we hope to get tired players out of the game and play fresh players.
Q: What do you think field lights will do for Harvard-Westlakeâs football program?
A: They will be a great boost to not only football, but all our sports that compete on Ted Slavin Field. Practice times do not come easy and scheduling games is hard for everyone. Playing all our home games on Friday nights are what high school football is all about. The thrill for our players will be a treat. This will also be a great opportunity for our team to play hard, fast and exciting football to generate large fan support and start the school year off with a bang.