make their way back to the football field at La Jolla High, they could well be making their way back to the football program’s glory days — if the efforts and vision of new head football coach Jason Carter pay off.
“What I’m trying to do is just rebuild La Jolla High football,” said Carter, who played college ball at Texas A&M and went on to play in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. “My understanding is that (La Jolla High’s football program) used to be pretty good back in the ’90s. I think we have some talent at the school to return La Jolla High back to where it needs to be. What we’re bringing in is a totally different system.”
Carrying their weight
Foremost, that new system involves revamping the Vikings’ offensive strategy and strengthening its line of scrimmage. When Carter was hired in March, one of the first things he did was pore over footage of games.
“It was obvious that they were losing the line of scrimmage,” said Carter, 30, who spent the prior season as an offensive coordinator at La Jolla Country Day. “If you lose the line of scrimmage, it’s obvious you’re not lifting enough weights.”
So Carter and his staff and players redid the school’s weight room, bringing in better weights and more platforms to do squats and clean and jerks, for increased leg strength.
Carter said he also relies heavily on the 14 coaches working under him to get the best out of the school’s freshman, junior varsity and varsity football players.
“All the coaches I’ve hired have experience playing in college, and a few of them played at the NFL level,” Carter said. “We have a great coaching staff that understands the game of football, but understands and shares my vision as well.”
Collin Rugg, the Vikings’ varsity quarterback, said Coach Carter’s strategy involves intense training and quick movement on the field. “It’s a totally different offensive team than last year,” said Collin, 16.
While last year the team employed the “Wing-T” offense (more of a running style), this year the team will be focusing on a spread formation (similar to that employed by the University of Oregon, with no huddles and heavy passing).
Collin’s father, Scott Rugg, said that while Coach Carter seems “pretty low key” off the field, “he’s a very engaged coach, very excitable, meaning when the players do something really, really well, he kind of jumps up and down and celebrates with them. He’s a younger coach, so he has a lot of new ideas.”
Varsity linebacker Bret Schuman, 17, added that Coach Carter is “installing a sophisticated offense and defense into the program,” in addition to a new mentality. “In the past it was our goal just to make playoffs and under coach Carter we expect to win the championship,” Bret said, noting that Carter works to mine each players’ potential while stressing safety with lessons gleaned from his own experience in the NFL.