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By Marcus D. Smith–
After a one-and-done 2019 year for the Mavericks former varsity football coach Bryan Golder, Mesa Verde High School looks to bring in a fresh face for 2020 — one that is familiar with MVHS, as he is an alumni of the school.
Mesas Verde introduced Leonard Casillas as the new head football coach for the Mavericks’ varsity team. Casillas comes with tons of experience ranging from playing to coaching at Mesa Verde High School.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me, It’s always been my dream ever since I started coaching, to be the head coach at Mesa Verde…to get the opportunity to come back, I’m real excited about that. I have a lot of roots
Casillas comes in to succeed Golder, who coached the Mavericks to a winning season. Casillas watched closely as to what the Mavericks were doing last year. In some parts, he was impressed, other departments he saw room for improvement.
“Just to be back here and be in the position I’ve always wanted, I’m so excited about it,” he said. “[We’ll] bring some traditions back, but also a new culture and build off that foundation of last year and the winning
Casillas plans to bring in his own coaching staff as he has already gone to sign Kenny Tubbs to be his defensive coordinator.
“[He’s] a great guy. I’m excited. I’m probably going to learn some things from him. He has a lot of knowledge to bring to our staff,” said Casillas in regard to the Tubbs hire.
Casillas and Tubbs have frequently talked to the returning players from the 2019 team discussing their likes and dislikes from their season.
The overall swing was there were not any dislikes, except the feeling that they could have done better. There were many things the players liked from last season and it was the overall family bond they created.
“They really like that culture with that last staff… just building that family atmosphere. That’s a big thing on me,” said Casillas.
It was important to them, as well as the culture of Mesa Verde football as they look to build upon a foundation. The team saw some recent success in comparison to previous years, although they still didn’t make the playoffs.
“I think it’s a huge thing right now, with the last coaching staff leaving, there were kids that were kind of heartbroken [about] what happened…Just building those relationships with them, talk to them,” said Casillas on mending the wounds the previous head coaches left by their abrupt departure.
“I think it’s real important to just build that relationship. Let them know that ‘hey I plan on being here for a long time, I’m loyal,” said Casillas. “When you’re done playing football here and you’re an alumni, it’d be nice to see you, to come back and talk to these younger kids on what you built here.”
Despite being a fresh face for the boys to see on a consistent basis, Casillas is big on culture and changing the program for the future.
“Another thing is commitment and just hard work,” he said. “Right now, we have kids that are already excited in the weight room and they’re putting in hard work,” he added.
Casillas looks to continue the tradition that they have grown accustomed to as he prepares to install his methodical football essence.
“I seen last year on film (that) they have the tools to be a winning team: now what are we going to do?’’ Casillas rhetorically asked. “So that’s why I’m putting in the work now and I’m just asking them to do the same for me. Put in the work, if I’m going to put in the work.”
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Off the field, Casillas and the staff are remaining true to their words in putting together different ways to find time to bond with the team as they move closer to spring football training and eventually transition into summer and autumn.
Last week, the Mesa Verde football team held a crab feed fundraiser event, where they fed members of the community a tasty bunch of crustaceans, sponsored by Mahoney’s Seafood.
“Worked our first crab feed,” coach Casillas tweeted after the event. “These young men did an outstanding job. I received many compliments about their service, great job guys.”
The Mavericks also volunteered for the 8th Annual Surf N’ Turf, held by Agape Villages, Foster Family Agency on Feb. 21, where they served an all-you-can-eat crab and barbecue Tri-tip dinner. The event was held at the Blue Goose Event Center in Loomis, Calif.
These are the first of many events that the Mavericks will be hosting to raise money and funding for the Mesa Verde football program and Mesa Verde athletics department. The next fundraiser will be Mesas Verde High School’s Second Annual Golf Tournament, held on May 2 at River Oaks Golf Course.
That event is sponsored by STARS (Science, Technology, Arts, and Reading for Students) of the San Juan Education Foundation. Once registered, they will provide golf utilities, a cart, the perfect range, snacks, and a dinner included.
More information about the upcoming event is available at www.mesaverdesports.com.
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Sports Reporter Marcus D. Smith covers high school sports in Citrus Heights. Smith is a Sacramento-area native and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.
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