Q&A: Foothill coach Gregg brings some continuity, some change

Jan. 24—A familiar face will return to helm the Foothill football team next season, as Mike Gregg takes over as head coach.

Gregg previously coached the Trojans from 2009-2012 and posted a record of 16-28, per MaxPreps, as part of a lengthy coaching career that has also included stints at Shafter and Centennial. Most recently, he led the defense for previous Foothill coach Brandon Deckard, who went 18-30 during his own tenure. The Trojans went on a historic run to win the Southeast Yosemite League in 2021 but regressed substantially the following year.

This interview with Gregg has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

TBC: What made this the right time for you to return to being a head coach again?

MG: Well, I sat down with my family, my wife, and just talked about, 'You know, I've done it once, and I kind of was really interested in doing it again.' I've got tons more knowledge now than I did back then. That was 10 years ago, and when I got back into it (in his most recent stint at Foothill) I really fell in love with coaching football again. And I'm very, very excited. I got a good group of guys around me that are gonna be helping me through this whole process of getting our kids the best coaching they can.

TBC: How is being a head coach different than it was 10 years ago?

MG: Right now, the biggest thing for me is getting kids to buy in. Back then, pretty much, you had the majority of the kids had already bought in, giving everything from the weight room in January, February, March, April, the spring. It's been a challenge right now, just getting kids to believe that everything's important, including the weight room, every day.

And I think the more that we keep doing it, staying consistent, I think it's gonna help our kids, it's gonna change the culture a little bit at our school and it's gonna be easier as time goes.

TBC: How do you think the continuity will help for the players of you having already been around running the defense previously?

MG: Yes, I've gotten to know the kids over the last two years, have a great relationship with most of them. We've got some younger kids that will be coming up that I'm just getting to know a little bit. Some of the coaches that are coming back to help, my lower-level guys, are gonna be here, and we're gonna have a few new coaches coming in.

It's really exciting right now ... having the kids knowing us, it's gonna help us, and they're gonna have a little more respect for us when we ask them to perform for us.

TBC: On the flip side of that, what needs to be different? You guys had a historic season in 2021, and then things kind of went downhill last year. What do you think needs to change?

MG: Well, what happened from '21 to '22 is we lost 17 seniors. Our entire front seven were all seniors on defense, and that was a big, big issue. The second issue was, our kids did not commit to the weight room. It really showed last year. I think we had 11 injuries and there were like six or seven of them that were season-ending, and it reflected how much they didn't commit to the weight room. We harped on them and harped on them, but they never felt the obligation and how important it is to be in the weight room.

Well, they found out last year. We had some tough games.

TBC: What are the tenets of the culture that you're hoping to establish for this team?

MG: My biggest thing is I want the kids to commit 100 percent to what we're doing. And I really truly believe when it's said and done ... yes, winning and losing is very important to us, I mean that's the No. 1 thing, but our biggest focus is on when we're done, these student-athletes are gonna be pillars of the community. They're gonna be respected people, they're gonna work hard, they're gonna be part of it, instead of being that type of guy that's getting in trouble all the time. And I think that's a very important deal, is becoming good gentlemen.

TBC: What are your thoughts on the Horizon League? Where do you see Foothill's place in the new collection of teams?

MG: I think our league's going to be very competitive. I've said from the beginning when we saw this league: I think Golden Valley's gonna be the cream of the crop in our division because of the athletes that they have. Del Oro's gonna come into their own when they start getting seniors, because next year they're only gonna have juniors. Mira Monte and Arvin against us, it's always a battle. Every single time we play it's always a battle.

TBC: What do you think will be your biggest challenge?

MG: We're gonna be implementing a new offense. That's probably gonna be the No. 1 challenge. Defensively, we're probably gonna be doing pretty much the same as we have the last couple of years. But the biggest thing's going to be implementing a new offense, and getting the kids to understand all our different signals and calls and all that.

TBC: Who are some of the assistants that you think will be key this year, and what makes them such a good fit?

MG: One of the best assistants I got coming back with me is Randy Maples. He's been around forever ... Randy's a very personable person, he does a great job with our kids ... and the kids enjoy having him around. We got a new coach that came over from Highland, I think, last year, he's gonna start running and helping Randy run the defense, and myself, and our DBs and receivers. His name is David Jackson. Really good guy.

And then basically my lower-level staff's all coming back. We're looking right now — with our numbers, we might possibly have three teams next year, and that's what our goal is.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.