Doug DeGeer, the new Warrior head football coach, poses with his family wife Danielle, sons Austin 11, and Easton 3.
DeGeer is the 18th head football coach in Warrior history dating back to the first team in 1930;
and the first new head coach since Steve Denman began way back in 1982.   Photo by The Tehachapi News.

DeGeer Gears Up For New Warrior Football Season

Posted on March 4, 2017 by John Nelson, The Tehachapi News

When Tehachapi High School hired its last head football coach 36 years ago, Doug DeGeer hadn't even been born yet.

That's the kind of legacy he faces as he takes over the helm for Steve Denman, Bob Elias Hall of Famer and one of only eight California coaches ever to win 300 or more games.

“It's pretty amazing to see what they did, that whole coaching staff,” the 34-year-old DeGeer said. “They worked together so great as a group.

“I feel like I've been looking up to them pretty much my whole life. That's definitely some big shoes to fill. It's pretty phenomenal what they did as a group.”

When Denman announced his retirement as coach in January, he left with his entire coaching staff — Dennis Ruggles, Bill Carll and Pat Snyder, all either former Warriors players or coaches, or both.

Now, they will be replaced by DeGeer and assistants Ryan Grimes, Jason Grimes and Ralph Curiel, all of whom played for Denman.

“It's Warriors leading Warriors,” DeGeer agreed. “I think that's an important part of the program, to have someone who understands the community and has a vested interested in helping to give back to it.”

Last season, Ryan Grimes was the head junior varsity coach; his brother, Jason, was an assistant. Curiel, an elementary teacher in the Tehachapi school system, went on to play football at College of the Canyons and Wingate University in North Carolina.

Happy Family

If the coaching corps at Tehachapi is beginning to sound like a big, happy, figurative family, that's because it is that and more. DeGeer just happens to be Denman's nephew, as well.

Like Denman when he was hired at age 24, DeGeer has no experience as a head football coach. He was, however, head coach of the JV baseball team for nine years and an assistant coach on the freshman football team.

Like many coaches on JV or frosh teams, DeGeer has filled many roles, most recently being defensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the freshmen.

An offensive lineman at Tehachapi and a 2000 grad, DeGeer did not play college football, graduating from Cal State Bakersfield. He taught school briefly at McFarland High School and is in his 10th year teaching in Tehachapi.

Taking over for Denman is a formidable task.

“It's pretty overwhelming, really,” DeGeer said. “He's done so much for the program and the community and for so many kids. It's a lot to carry on, but that's one of the reasons I was drawn to it — those core valuables that coach Denman instilled in kids for so many years.”

His philosophy of coaching, he said, transcends football.

“Again, it's instilling those values, the idea of integrity, accountability and responsibility,” he said, “of perseverance, of dealing with adversity — the kind of values that make people successful in their everyday lives.”

Those are things that Warrior football has always tried to accomplish, he said.

More Passing ... Maybe

As for X's and O's, DeGeer said he might have a surprise or two for Warrior players and fans — an offensive system that will look familiar but with a few new wrinkles.

“That's a good way to describe it,” he said. “We'll adapt and adjust to what we've seen other teams do. Will I still run the Wing-T and are we going to pass more often? Those are the things everybody asks me.

“Maybe if I come out and throw the ball on my very first play, and everyone smiles and cheers, then I can call 10 running plays in a row and nobody will notice.”

While he would like to install some new plays, he said, perhaps even a few more passing plays, a lot will depend on personnel.

“You want to be versatile and do different things on offense,” he said, “but it really all comes down to personnel. If we have the guys who can throw, we will. If we don't, well, you can't rely on that.

“It all comes down to putting the kids in a situation where they can succeed.”

DeGeer admits he might be a little behind schedule. His new job didn't even become official until last Tuesday, Feb. 28. Now, there are duties to assign, playbooks to fill, player personnel to assess — all with spring ball starting in May.

“There's a lot to do, a lot to get ready when you're coming into a job like this,” he said.

Well, if things go as planned, if history repeats itself, he'll have 35 years to figure it out.

“It's pretty amazing what coach Denman did, what that whole coaching staff did,” DeGeer said. “I'd be thrilled to have half that time.”