Janz sends Oregon City football in new direction
In the heart of Oregon City High's spring practice session, the script called for small groups to move from one drill station to another every five minutes.
The Pioneers were in their second week of post-Memorial Day workouts, but it was their first day in full pads.
Some of the drills were conditioning-intensive. Others focused more on technique. And then after every third or fourth drill, the players came together near midfield, the varsity on one side of the 50-yard line and the junior varsity on the other, and the two groups lined up, offense vs. defense, and ran as many plays as they could run for five minutes before moving on to the next exercise.
Dustin Janz, the former Oregon State University lineman who was named in April to take over the Oregon City football program after four seasons as the head coach at Reynolds, as in the center of all the action.
Janz's coaching resume also includes stints as a high school assistant at two schools in Arizona –- Mt. Pointe in Phoenix and McClintock in Tempe –- so most of this is nothing new for him, but some of it is different, and therein lies the challenge
"It's just so fun to be at Oregon City," Janz said. "There's just a great vibe, a fun vibe, a competitive vibe, and these kids just want to be good all of the time and they consistently give their best effort.
"And that's what you need if you ant to be a contender or a team that's n the conversation. That's what the great schools -- the Clackamases, the Central Catholics, and the West Linns -- are doing regularly. At some of the other places I've been, it was up and down or hit and miss, but here … the kids are excited about being football players. They want to be good at the game and it's important to them to improve every day."
Janz retained assistants Justin Barchus, Bruce Borgelt, Brian Craven, Jeremy Johnson, Mychal Lemon and Bryan Swanson from the previous Oregon City coaching staff, and then brought assistants Jason Daniels, Ed Miller, Kelly Murphy and Bob Taylor from his staff at Reynolds.
The staff has room for a couple more assistants, but Janz has enough coaches in place to start tackling some of the primary goals on his spring and summer agenda. Among the first orders of business are:
-- An overall understanding of basic offensive and defensive terminology.
"That's essential," Janz said. "Every program has its own language, and we want to get all our players and coaches speaking the same language so they understand each other when we start throwing football terms around."
-- Developing sound fundamentals
"We want to make sure we're doing the basics correctly," Janz said. "That includes everything from stances and starts to eye discipline, head-and-hand placement, and other basic, fundamental techniques."
-- Understanding team philosophy.
Said Janz: "There needs to be an overall mentality in the program of how we do things, how we operate day to day, how we handle ourselves on and off the field, and the expectations that we have for ourselves and for each other.
"We want to create a baseline of knowledge, skills and expectations, so everybody knows where we are, and then we can move forward from that and build on that, creating a foundation for the rest of the season."
On offense, Janz plans to use the same zone read-option attack that he used while at Reynolds. He says the offense is a mixture of different things he has picked up over the past 15 years, but if there is one person who has influenced him more than any other, it would be Matthew Lewis, the former head coach at McClintock who is now the head coach at Royal High School in Simi Valley, California.
"It's neat to see how the offense has evolved in the six or seven years since we worked together," Janz said. "We changed to offense to fit the personnel at Reynolds, and now we're at Oregon City doing to same thing.
"It's spread when it neds to be, and it's not spread when it doesn't need to be. We use personnel groupings to change what we do and how we do it, but the one thing we've done since I starting coaching is we've always tried to make it as simple as we possibly can."
He said everything the Pioneers do with the ball with revolve around five run concepts and five pass concepts.
"It becomes multiple with different motions, formations, and personnel, but it's really just 10 concepts that the kids have to understand," he said. "With those 10 concepts, they can do everything this is in our play book.
"It's simple, but for an opposing defense, it's difficult to prepare for because there are lots of moving parts to it and a number of bells and whistles that make it more complicated for defense to line up and stop it."
On defense, Janz wants to play a base 4-2-5 scheme that is geared toward stopping the run.
"I believe every great defense at any level of football has to stop the run first," he said. "If you can't hang your hat on stopping the run, you're not going to be very successful. So, that's step one.
"Step two is playing sound on the back end and knowing how to communicate well so that our kids are in position to make plays on the football when the ball is in the air. We've got several teams on our schedule, including West Linn in week one, that know how to put the ball in the air extremely well, so we're going to have to make sure that we're prepared."
Work in progress
Oregon City's coaching change has come with an adjustment period that in some respects has put the Pioneers in a position of playing catch-up with some of the other Mt. Hood Conference programs.
"You're a little behind automatically when you're changing terminology, changing how you're calling the offense, and changing the people who are running the offense and the defense," Janz said. "The one thing I've been very impressed with is that the Oregon City players have a very high football IQ and have picked things up pretty darn quick.
"If you're a program with a staff that has been around four or five years, you're more focused on the minutiae the make a play special or a concept special, whereas we're trying to get people lined up and get them to understand where they're supposed to go, why they're supposed to go there, and how they're supposed to get there."
Janz is still on the staff at Reynolds. He has worked out a schedule where he is able to get to Oregon City one day a week, but the juggling act at times has proven problematic.
In one instance, a Janz email confirming Oregon City's participation in the Metro Area Linemen Challenge got lost in the shuffle and the Pioneers missed the entry deadline. The issue was resolved and Oregon City will compete in the July 15 event at Hare Field in Hillsboro, but Janz said the miscommunication probably could have been avoided if he had been on campus.
"Things like that happen when you're transitioning to a new coaching staff," Janz said. "It's just part of the gig, but everything gets figured out in the long run.
"You've got to learn how everybody works together and how processes work and all those things at a new school. And all those things are coming along."
The Pioneers closed out their two-week spring practices with a scrimmage Saturday with Beaverton, Canby and Sunset at Canby High School.
The players are taking this week off as they turn their attention to final exams, and are scheduled to kick off then their summer weight-training and conditioning program beginning next week.
"I'm very excited with how far we've come in the short amount of time that we've had," Janz said. "Right now, everything is great. I'm really happy and looking forward to a good year and a good time at Oregon City."