For years, I wondered if that particular season was the one where the football team at De La Salle High School, which was right down the street from the newspaper where I worked in California, would stumble.
It never was. De La Salle’s success seemingly rolled on forever.
You might be familiar with De La Salle High School’s football program since “When The Game Stands Tall” was released in movie theaters in 2014. It was a snapshot of a time during the Spartans’ 12-year, 151-game winning streak.
Some other numbers. De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur was 399-25-3 during his career, and his team had 20 undefeated seasons.
Here at Columbus East, head football coach Bob Gaddis can’t compare to those kind of numbers, but his Hall of Fame career is impressive nonetheless. He is 150-30 at East and 268-130 overall.
Both men are similar in that they developed a system for success that mainly revolved around making sure the players outworked the competition. Both systems were successful even if they didn’t have outstanding natural talents.
For every Maurice Jones-Drew or D.J. Williams at De La Salle, there were hundreds of average kids who maximized their potential in the system. Columbus East is the same, as the Gunner Kiels and Stevie Browns are the exceptions.
And it should be noted that Gaddis compiled his numbers at a public school while Ladouceur benefited from coaching at a private school. I’m not saying that Ladouceur recruited, as he often was accused of doing by opponents, but his team’s success created a rich-get-richer situation. The best players in the East Bay found a way to De La Salle’s doorstep.
It doesn’t work quite that way for Gaddis, but he still manages to transform those who enroll at East into successful players. The Olympians haven’t lost more than two games in a season since 2003.
If you aren’t wearing orange, you have to wonder when they might have a bad season. This can’t go on forever, can it?
East just lost Markell Jones, who set a state single-season rushing record in 2014. The Olympians lost two dominating defensive linemen in Connor Roberts and Brock Greiwe.
They lost impact players in linebacker Tyler Campbell, offensive linemen Joey Bastion and Devorus Lewis and defensive back Cam Curry.
When you look at this season’s roster, the only sure bet you see is linebacker Sam Dwenger, who is a two-time all-state selection. The quarterback, K.J. McCarter, was asked to manage the offense last season, not lead it. The defensive line is a big question mark. The offensive line has been rebuilt.
The team would seem to lack some star power.
Then you start thinking about the Gaddis system.
Somehow, some way, the system produces stars. Average kids who have outworked the competition become impact players. Role players become team leaders. Scout team players earn all-conference accolades.
So will this be the season that Columbus East stumbles?
You’ve got to believe, in the system, in Gaddis.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at [email protected] or 379-5632.