Bonita Football Changes Generals, Medrano Named New Bearcats Head Coach

January 12, 2012
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The buck now stops with Coach Adrian Medrano.

The buck now stops with Coach Adrian Medrano.

Heading out of the football trailer on the Bonita campus on Thursday afternoon, longtime Bonita head football coach Eric Podley asked his replacement Adrian Medrano whether he wanted a soft drink.


Podley had only resigned on Monday, Jan. 9, after 12 seasons and already he was warming up to his new role as assistant and offensive coordinator.

“Stepping down was something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” said Podley, who led Bonita to the playoffs nine times in a dozen seasons, including just missing taking the team to the promised land in 2010. “The demands of being a classroom teacher seem to be increasing every year. Same with athletic director and same with being head football coach.

“It was getting to the point where it was difficult to do all three jobs well at the same time, so something had to give.”

A back injury also took its toll on Podley during the 2010 season. “The illness made me reprioritize some things toward my family,” he said. “My son’s getting married this year. Hopefully, some grandchildren …. I’ve got a daughter, who career-wise is getting some things moving. They’ve kind of sacrificed for a while.”

The 2011 season also marked Podley’s 20th year as a head coach. A milestone had been reached and savored.

Making the decision easier was Medrano, whom Podley and his senior staff had been grooming for the role for the past four years. Medrano played football for four seasons at the University of La Verne. After serving a season as a defensive assistant with San Dimas, Medrano found a home at Bonita, where he also has taught English for the last five years.

“It was a four year-plan and it was time for it to come to fruition,” Podley said.

While Podley will certainly miss calling the shots, he won’t miss some of the baggage that accompanies being head honcho, such as dealing with fragile egos and the scores of extra coaches in the stands. “He can deal with the angry parents,” Podley said.

The burden of raising $25,000 annually to sustain the program also won’t be missed, either. “Fundraising is getting tougher,” Podley admitted. “It’s hard times for everybody.”

Podley’s past seasons are studded with poignannt memories. No doubt, the 2010 championship run ranks high.

“That was a big deal for us,” Podley recalled. “We hadn’t had a great run getting out of the first round of the playoffs so that was big. I was particularly proud of the way our kids played West Covina that second time. They showed dramatic improvement. I was really proud of the way the kids responded.

“The Kevin Normington incident (the star player was killed in a 2007 auto accident) was obviously a big deal for our program,” Podley said. “From a negative came a positive. We became more of a family after that. We became more of a family-oriented program, and we’ve been able to maintain that.”

Just 27 years old, Medrano won’t have to look far down the sideline for Podley and the rest of the 2010 staff. The fact that nobody is jumping ship has to be a huge vote of confidence for the young coach.

Podley is Medrano’s biggest cheerleader.

“This is a guy real concerned about football,” Podley said. “It’s a passion of his. That’s what he wants to do with his life. He’s a good educator. He’s a good teacher. He cares. He has the right attitude.

“He’s uniquely qualified. We’ve pushed him every year and given him more responsibilities.”

Medrano says he loves his football home of Bonita. “I’ve appreciated the staff, I’ve appreciated the players. I’ve appreciated the community of La Verne,” he said. “It truly is a special place.”

Don’t expect Medrano to get radical and ditch Podley’s brand of football any time soon.

“That would be pretty foolish to go out and completely change things,” Medrano said. “Obviously, my hands are going to be in every aspect of the program – all three phases of the game and the outside portions of it as well, from  fundraising to the uniforms.

“But as far as radical change, people aren’t going to see any different brand of football. We’ll still play with 11 guys out on the field. We’ll adapt the system to the players.”

Before the Shakespeare-quoting Medrano accepted the job, he called every member of the coaching staff asking for their blessing and got it. “The first thing I wanted to do was to make sure these guys were on board,” Medrano said. “So I called and talked to everyone, and they said they were in.

“That was real humbling.”

As for the team, Medrano didn’t want to talk x’s and o’s. Rather, he wanted to talk about leadership, effort and accountability. But clearly, game film of Bonita’s first-round loss to the Arcadia Apaches in 2011 was also top of mind. “We definitely need to tackle better, and hopefully the throwing game will come around.”

With the interview over, Medrano turned to the open door. There was no soft drink in sight. Podley was headed back to his office, with athletic director business to tend to. And Medrano was on his own.


One Response to “Bonita Football Changes Generals, Medrano Named New Bearcats Head Coach”

  1. Go Bearcats! Time for the era to begin!

    Great article!

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