Tyree brings in­ter­est­ing style

Imperial Valley Press - - Sports - TOM RONCO

Iwas re­cently work­ing on a story about John Tyree’s re­turn to ranks of Im­pe­rial Val­ley foot­ball coach­ing as the new head coach of the Calex­ico High School Bull­dogs.

I’ve known John mostly from his rep­u­ta­tion as he left the Val­ley the year I ar­rived (1974) and I was ac­tu­ally down vis­it­ing fam­ily in De­cem­ber of 1973 and re­mem­ber reading about Im­pe­rial High School’s CIF-South­ern Sec­tion 1A cham­pi­onship vic­tory over Paso Robles.

I knew of him from con­ver­sa­tions with some of his as­sis­tant coaches and for­mer play­ers and had met him sev­eral times.

I wrote the story when he was among the in­au­gu­ral in­ductees into the Im­pe­rial Val­ley Foot­ball Coaches Hall of Fame at a game at Tiger Sta­dium.

I’d also fol­lowed him through other suc­cess­ful coach­ing stops, reading about his suc­cess in Fon­tana in River­side County, first as coach of the Fon­tana High and then A.B. Miller High along with John Muir High of Pasadena, all of whom he took to CIF-South­ern Sec­tion cham­pi­onship games.

I’d heard he was suc­cess­ful af­ter leav­ing Cal­i­for­nia but I didn’t know ex­actly that in Ok­la­homa he took teams to six state play­offs in seven sea­sons in­clud­ing two state semi­fi­nal games or how his high school coach­ing went in Texas or his com­mu­nity col­lege and four-year col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence.

Still, I knew enough to know that he was at an age and po­si­tion in life to rest on his lau­rels and not to be mov­ing from Texas back to the Val­ley to help res­ur­rect the Bull­dog pro­gram.

So I won­dered, as I’m sure many have, why all the mov­ing around and why Calex­ico, now?

Well, it took about five min­utes into a re­cent con­ver­sa­tion with John to un­der­stand — it’s the chal­lenge each school pre­sented and ev­ery one of them has been dif­fer­ent.

Tyree ap­par­ently thrives on the chal­lenge and re­ally hasn’t lost the de­sire to take over a pro­gram and be suc­cess­ful.

“It’s hard to stay that long any­where as a coach be­cause you start run­ning into prob­lems that you never can solve and you get tired of run­ning into walls,” Tyree told me, not­ing that he had re­tired twice. “I was go­ing a lit­tle crazy and Calex­ico called and here I am.”

Sounds sim­ple, doesn’t it? Ex­cept the Bull­dog play­ers he’s deal­ing with are more than a half a cen­tury younger than he is and their grand­par­ents are possibly younger.

“I got a small ranch in Texas and had some plans, but to me re­tire­ment is over­rated. It’s un­healthy when you’re not do­ing any­thing,” Tyree said. “Age is not an is­sue … I’m not 25 like the first time I came and that may be a bless­ing.”

How is that you might won­der? It’s be­cause the first time he came he had an idea of what he wanted to do as a head coach but now he knows that what he does works.

“At Im­pe­rial we wore Ok­la­homa col­ors and ran the Wish-Bone and I’m still run­ning it,” Tyree said. “We’ve re­fined it over time and we’ll look at the per­son­nel and make ad­just­ments as we go.”

Tyree shows the same con­fi­dence about his de­fen­sive schemes not­ing it’s still the same base he ran in Im­pe­rial and that the Bull­dogs will add to it as they can.

“We have ad­vanced pack­ages on both of­fense and de­fense and will in­tro­duce them as soon as ap­pro­pri­ate,” Tyree said. “You can go out there and run what­ever you want but we start with a base and take it as far it will go … you don’t want to get too far out ahead of your­self.”

That’s the key in my mind, not that Tyree has some magic wand, but that he has a plan and one that has worked. One that he un­der­stands how to man­age and one that he has the pa­tience to im­ple­ment it.

So maybe Calex­ico is get­ting not just a solid foot­ball coach, but one that fits bet­ter than a ca­sual ob­ser­va­tion might lead peo­ple to con­clude.

That Calex­ico will ex­ceed last sea­son with its al­most end­less sec­ond-half run­ning-clocks is a given, just be­ing com­pet­i­tive will be a tremen­dous im­prove­ment.

How much they ex­ceed the past few sea­sons will de­pend on a num­ber of ar­eas, some of which no coach can con­trol but I’m of the opin­ion that there are ar­eas coaches can con­trol. Of those I be­lieve Tyree’s teams will show im­prove­ment and suc­cess. That’s the re­sume that Calex­ico bought into be­cause quite frankly that’s his record.

How much suc­cess and how soon, I’m not sure of be­cause as I’m fond of say­ing no coach can win with­out com­mit­ted and tal­ented play­ers.

I am sure that if Tyree gets the school’s and the play­ers’ com­mit­ment and if they re­turn his com­mit­ment to them, he will uti­lize the tal­ent as well as any coach.

It seems to me that the next few Calex­ico High foot­ball sea­sons should be very in­ter­est­ing.

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