Canyon and Saugus football begin to utilize JV coaching staff

Saugus High School's football team practices for the upcoming 2019 football season. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

There’s a new trend happening at Canyon and Saugus High Schools, and other schools might soon follow suit. JV football coaches are helping out the varsity teams as position coaches.

Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez and Saugus head coach Jason Bornn have utilized their JV staffs this year as position coaches and coordinators for their varsity squads.

Bornn had used freshman coaches in the past, but this is the first year Gutierrez is implementing this new system.

“I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Gutierrez said. “I just want to embrace it and make it better.”

According to Bornn, there are several advantages to having coaches work at both the JV and varsity level. It eliminates the need for two staffs, particularly in an era where coaches are hard to come by. It helps keep the message consistent throughout the different grade levels and it narrows the learning curve for players moving through the program.

For Gutierrez, the improved and shared communication between the different grade levels is what makes this plan so successful.

“The advantage is the same message, what you say top down, it never gets lost in translation,” Gutierrez said. “My freshman, JV guys and my varsity guys are hearing the same message. My players are only going to get better as the gap closes. For me, I think it’s an amazing thing.”

While combining the coaching staffs is beneficial for the players, it also helps the coaches improve and deal with things they might have never dealt with before.

“It helps coaches develop too,” Gutierrez said. “They see things from a different perspective. You can be a coordinator at one level, but also a position coach on varsity and since we run the same offense, it’s the same message.”

Jibri Hodge, the offensive coordinator for Canyons’ JV team, has been coaching with Gutierrez since he was first hired at Canyon. Within in the new coaching strategy, Hodge will be helping out the varsity team as a wide receivers coach.

Dwain Whalen, who is the head coach of the JV team, is now also the varsity running backs coach.

Alex Reinwald, who serves as Canyons’ assistant head coach, varsity offensive coordinator and the strength and conditioning coach, will take on slightly more responsibility under the new guidelines.

“I’m working more with the younger guys in the weight room,” said Reinwald. “As the strength and conditioning coach, I work with them less on the field. For me it’s more about getting them in shape.”

Scott Hamilton, Saugus’ JV offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Zack Lutge the JV offensive and defensive line coach have both taken roles on Saugus’ varsity coaching staff.

Despite the added assignments, Bornn and Gutierrez think their coaches can handle it.

“Monday through Thursday the workload is pretty much the same,” Bornn said. “On Fridays, they have an additional game before the varsity game, but that’s pretty much it.”

“I think they like it,” Gutierrez added. “We’re all together, everybody is intertwined. Now in the program, there won’t be any missteps because everything is delineated.”

While the JV coaches are taking on more responsibilities, it doesn’t mean they are neglecting their own team.

Rick Miler, who coaches Saugus’ JV team, will remain at the helm. Bornn referred to him as “The Papa Bear” who keeps everything in place.

For Gutierrez, he embraces the opportunity to work with kids the second they step on campus as freshmen.

“For me as the head coach, I get to build the relationships, and I’m a relationship guy,” he said. “I get to spend time with my freshman kids, I get to see them on campus, I get to see them in class. It’s a global thing and I get to embrace the whole program.”

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