Back in November 2015, we wrote a little blog about the Calabasas football team and how they were undefeated, apparently, it doesn’t stop there. A little website, USA Today, took notice as well. Now I don’t know much about football or follow any high school sports closely – but I did notice they hired a new coach, Casey Clausen back in 2014 and it’s not difficult to notice how awesome the team has been doing since his arrival.
In the span of two seasons, Calabasas has been remade as a burgeoning powerhouse — winner of 19 games during the past two seasons, including a 13-2 mark in 2015 that culminated with the school’s first appearance in the California Interscholastic Foundation State Regionals. For years, the program’s lack of success led local prospects with any desire to be recognized by college recruiters to play elsewhere, with many electing to attend one of the numerous private, football-obsessed institutions dotting Southern California. For many, the choice was simple: Calabasas simply didn’t exist as an option. Calabasas trails in total numbers. There were less than 50 players in the program when Clausen first arrived, and roughly 80 on the roster this spring. Most public schools carry a minimum of 115 players, allowing for varsity, junior-varsity and freshman teams. Calabasas simply doesn’t have the same luxury.
Academics have played a role in the program’s growth. We can win with you or we can win without you, Clausen said in his first meeting with the team, a blistering 20-minute message underlining the NCAA’s eligibility requirements as a baseline for classroom success. Of the Coyotes’ 48 players when Clausen arrived in 2014, 28 were academically ineligible; last fall, as the team prepared for the CIF playoffs, all 85 players on the roster were eligible, in what Foss called a first for the football program.