Despite numbers, Teets is determined at California
Bo Teets knew when he took the California Area football job he would have to win fans over.
After all, he was the first Trojans football mentor in a long time who was not a Cal alumnus.
However, he wasn't thinking he would have to win the players over, too.
A year ago, in Brady Barbero's final season, the Trojans had close to 40 players on the roster.
“They only lost like three seniors, so I figured when I came here we would have a decent amount of players,” Teets said.
But the longtime Monessen assistant welcomed just 27 players to camp.
“It's a little better than it was,” Teets said with a smile. “All summer long, we were getting like 20, 22 players and I was getting scared. The numbers are not what I expected, but I like what I have here. I have a bunch of good kids and a lot of them can play.
“It's not the worst-case scenario. It's not the best-case scenario. It's somewhere in the middle.”
After coaching a number of years as an assistant, Teets says wearing the hat of the head coach is a little different for him — but not much.
“When I was an assistant, football-wise I was always trying to be involved in everything,” he said, again smiling. “The thing I have to adjust to now is the extra stuff like dealing with boosters and administration. And while that will take some time, I have to say I am more than pleased with how we have been accepted by the boosters and administration. They have been great.”
As for working with the team, Teets said he believes the players he has are buying into a new system.
“I think so,” he said. “We're just trying to get the intensity up. We want a little bit more fire. We're trying to work our best on our best and make those guys fight against each other to get better.
“We're trying to be as flexible as possible. We want to be flexible enough in our system that we can plug people in and out and they are going to know what they have to do.”
Teets said he has leaned a bit from the two head coaches he worked under, Monessen's Andy Pacak and former Belle Vernon Area coach Gary Dongilli.
“I talk to Andy pretty much every week and we run things past one another,” he said. “We talk about little bits here and there. I may ask him, ‘If this situation came up, how would you handle it?' Things like that.”
Teets began his coaching career as a volunteer on Dongilli's staff at BVA and said he had a lengthy meeting with the former coach recently.
“We talked for maybe one and a half to two hours about football and I can tell you Gary's still got it,” Teets said. “If he wanted to coach, he can walk right on to the sidelines now and still be great. When I was on his staff, really, I was more learning than coaching because that was an amazing staff he had top to bottom and I was so young.”
Teets said he planned hard for the start of his first camp as a coach and believes he has prepared for whatever happens.
“We knew coming in this would be a challenge,” he said. “We know our philosophies were going to be different and the kids would have to get used to doing things differently. I think by the end of these two weeks, we will have the ball rolling here pretty good.
“Just trying to get our mentality here passed on to the players is what we have been working on.”
Teets noted that he lost three players to transfers out of state, and he thinks other kids may have opted not to play more because of the conference than the coaching change.
“We play in the toughest conference in Class A, and all things considered, probably the WPIAL,” he said. “Last year was a tough one for these kids and maybe some of them don't want to go through that again.
“But what I'm counting on is the toughness of the kids in this school to win out. I mean, the basketball team has done pretty well and the baseball team always does well. So there are mentally tough kids in this school who want to compete and be a part of those programs. I think if we can compete in this conference this year, kids will want to play football again and our numbers will jump back up.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.