BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
Foothill reached into Bakersfield's past and hired Jason Oliver to be its next head football coach, athletic director Scott Manzer said.
Manzer said another former area high school great, Foothill alumnus Joey Porter, also applied for the position.
"It was a tough decision," Manzer said. "We interviewed six or eight good-quality candidates and decided to go with Jason. He has a real good resume, a lot of experience and football knowledge."
Oliver, who coached at Bakersfield High from 1999-2004, said he's ready to get back on the sideline.
"I was excited, you know what I mean?" he said. "I had applied for other jobs since (leaving BHS) and didn't get them, so I tried not to be too high or too low. Just see what happens."
What happened is that Oliver, who has coached girls basketball at South High for the past two seasons, will get another chance to coach high school football after the one-time BHS star defensive back was forced out at his alma mater more than eight years ago.
"I never realized it would be this long before I got another opportunity," Oliver said. "But I don't look at it like a second chance. It's an opportunity for right now. I focus on what's in front of me, not behind me. I'm sure it will be looked at that way, but I don't."
Oliver, 41, played at Bakersfield High between 1988-1990 and at USC from 1991-94 before a serious car accident derailed his playing career. He coached at Montclair Prep in Southern California before becoming an assistant to Tim Hartnett at BHS in 1999. Oliver rose to the position of offensive coordiantor in 2000 and helped the Drillers to an undefeated season and Central Section championship in 2001.
The following year, he became the head coach at BHS, but his tenure was something of a disappointment at a school with a long history of big success: Oliver went 16-17 and won the 2003 Southeast Yosemite League but finished under .500 each of the other two years and was forced to resign in Dec. 2004.
"I was disappointed with how it ended," he said. "I thought I put in solid work and in a couple of years I was building to something. I didn't win enough games, but behind the scenes, I thought I reached some of the boys. To me, it was a great experience. It wasn't negative at all."
Oliver said off-the-field lessons will be central to his philosophy at Foothill, too.
"I just want them to understand how to work hard and learn some lessons, learn some team concepts, and really stay focused," he said. "It's about student-athletes right now, and 99.9 percent of them will end up getting jobs like the rest of us. I want them to be solid, productive citizens."
Oliver met with his new team Tuesday and said he'll begin putting together a coaching staff and learning Foothill's personnel next week.
"I like those kids," he said. "I liked being around them, and then they're Trojans, and being a USC guy, I like that. And following a guy like Ned Permenter, who's legendary, and all the alums that come out of there, I'm really excited."
Four track titles go to locals
Shafter senior Joseph Munoz popped off a season-best mark of 57 feet, 3.5 inches to win the boys shot put title at Wednesday's Central Section Sierra-Sequoia Division Championships in Exeter.
Munoz goes into the Central Section Masters Championships on May 18 in Clovis as the top qualifier.
Shafter's 1,600-meter relay team of Gabriel Cabazuela, Jesus Sanchez, Jesus Verduzco and Derrick Barton also won a Sierra-Sequoia title, running 3:31.45 and helping the Generals tie for fifth place as a team. Kingsburg won the boys team title, followed by Dinuba, Fowler and Selma.
On the girls side, the Generals placed third, behind host Exeter, which won its fourth straight title, and Visalia-Central Valley Christian.
McFarland, which was girls champion and boys runner-up at the Sierra Division Championships last week, finished seventh in both team races in this meet, which included many bigger schools.
Three other individuals won championships: Bakersfield Christian sophomore Matt Smith in the boys discus (165-8); McFarland sophomore Luis Orozco (1:59.41) in the boys 800 and McFarland junior Carmen Hernandez in the girls 300-meter hurdles (47.48). Smith is second in the section in the discus.
Other notable local marks: Shafter's Barton in the boys 200 (third in 22.31), McFarland's Danny Garcia in the boys 3,200 (third in 9:46.67) and Arvin's Jessica De La O (second in the girls shot put at 35-5.25). The top three in each event automatically qualified for the Masters meet.
Valos honored by GWU
Stockdale graduate Victoria Valos was honored as the Female Athlete of the Year at George Washington University and was the Colonials' softball team MVP for the second consecutive year.
Valos batted .358 and hit 11 home runs with a school-record 51 RBIs this season.