High school football never stops.
Del Norte High head coach Ray Rook has spent the time between the end of the 2012 season and spring practice — what was once known as the offseason — visiting with coaches at Oregon and California high schools and getting the Warriors’ football house in order in preparation for spring practices.
That includes hiring four new staff members to replace three departing coaches.
Danny Forkner, Michael Dixon, Scott Skerik and John Maready have been added to the Del Norte High staff. Dixon will act as the Warriors’ strength and conditioning coach; the roles of Forkner, Skerik and Maready have yet to be defined.
Forkner, Dixon and Skerik coached the Del Norte Youth Football A Gold team to an undefeated season and Six Rivers Youth Football Conference championship this fall. Del Norte Youth Football borrows terminology and plays from the high school team so that players are brought up in a system.
“The great thing they can bring to the staff is the want to gain knowledge of what it takes to be successful in high school (football),” Rook said. “Loving the work and knowing what it takes to be done. To me it’s key, to have staff willing to put in the extra work.”
Offensive coordinator Chris White, offensive line/linebackers coach Nick White and defensive coordinator Fritz Baldwin were not retained. Baldwin had assisted the Warriors for 15 years.
Jeremy Lacy, Gene Mitchell, Darren Lafazio, Rod Shellabarger, Nick Watson and Kenny Price will remain on staff in 2013, Rook said. Lacy, Mitchell and Lafazio will assume coordinator roles; Price is expected to remain special teams coach.
Whether Lacy returns as head coach of the junior varsity squad remains up in the air, according to Rook. Rook said that he hopes to better integrate the junior varsity coaches into varsity preparation, and vice versa, next season.
Del Norte started the 2012 season 2-2 before losing its last six games, sitting in last place with a 1-6 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League record (2-8 overall). The Warriors lost three consecutive games by six points or fewer in the middle of the season.
Nine seniors played their final downs in 2012, but no senior ran the ball, caught a pass or threw a pass for Del Norte. The 2013 iteration figures to be battle-tested and willing to advance as a program.
“To me, when you go back to any program that’s successful every year, the number one (thing that program has) is athletes. Number two is preparation of the athletes,” Rook said. “We have to develop desire. Kids have to want to compete. (If they do,) we’ll give ourselves a chance to be successful in football and life.”
Rook and the coaching staff sees plenty of desire in the Warriors’ offseason weight training sessions. As many as 20 members of the team not involved in a winter sport have joined the workouts, looking to gain strength and maintain their physical conditioning.
“What we have in the weight room is a lot of kids that maybe weren’t on the field last year,” Rook said. “They know the weight and conditioning program is going to give them a chance.”
Rook and the coaching staff have tweaked their offensive system, hoping to produce better results in running the football. The goal of the changes, Rook said, is to become less dependent on the east-west running of the spread while maintaining a number of option looks.
Del Norte is scheduled to participate in the Gold Beach Football Team Camp this June. A Midnight Madness event, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 12, will replace the Blue and Gold Game as the preseason showcase event.
Spring practice remains a couple months away, but the Warriors are washing away the bitter taste of last season.
“You’ll see a different football team next year,” Rook said.