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2017 Prep Football Preview: Carpinteria Is in Good Hands With Rick Candaele at Helm

Area's Ole Ball Coach building team to win a league championship

In his 49th year of coaching football, Rick Candaele takes over the head job at Carpinteria High. Click to view larger
In his 49th year of coaching football, Rick Candaele takes over the head job at Carpinteria High. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

This is the last in a series of previews on South Coast high school football teams.

Rick Candaele may struggle with operating a smart phone or a laptop computer, but he’s master when it comes to coaching and teaching football.

Candaele is this area’s version of the “Ole Ball Coach,” a reference commonly used with longtime college football coach Steve Spurrier.

Entering his 49th year of coaching football, Candaele replaces retired Ben Hallock as the head coach at Carpinteria. He was a part of Hallock’s staff.

“People ask me what it feels like,” Candaele said about coaching all these years. “It doesn’t feel like anything, it feels the same. Every year for 49 years I’ve coached football. When I started in 1968, coaching sophomore linebackers (in high school), I was just involved in football as I am now.

“When I was head coach at UCSB and Claremont College, it felt no different when I was an assistant here. It’s all the same. It’s all the same investment, it’s all the same time, it’s all the same feeling, the same anxiety, same victory, same defeat. It’s never been any different, coaching is just coaching. It doesn’t matter if you’re the head coach at a college or university, or if you’re the sophomore coach of linebackers.”

The Warriors have an experienced quarterback and center in Vance Keiser and David Torres. Click to view larger
The Warriors have an experienced quarterback and center in Vance Keiser and David Torres. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Candaele has a trusted staff in Van Latham and Henry Gonzalez, both of whom have been part of the Warriors football program for several years.

“I couldn’t do this without Henry and Van,” he said. “Henry does all the behind-the-scenes stuff, Van does the digital stuff, which I’m very inefficient in, by the way.”

He laughs about his deficiancy of technical skills. “There’ll be a phone call and somebody will say, ‘Put it on speaker phone.’ And I’ll say, ‘What? How do you do that?’’’

But he's quite adept when it comes to the X’s and O’s and getting players ready to play the game he’s so passionate about.

One thing Candaele is doing at Carpinteria is combining the varsity and junior varsity teams for practice. It helps build up the younger players and creates unity in the program.

Justise “Tugs” Whittenton is part of a solid offensive line. Click to view larger
Justise “Tugs” Whittenton is part of a solid offensive line. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

“Our staff is just one staff then we divide up as we go,” he explained. He plans to platoon offensive and defensive players and have just a few kids play both ways.

The offense unit centers around the offensive line of Justise “Tugs” Whittenton (5-3, 265), Cristian Murillo (6-1, 210), Michael Gil (5-9, 215)  Jose Alvarado (5-9, 235) and David Torres (6-0, 230).

“That’s really the heart of our team,” says Candaele. “When you get the center of your team as those humble offensive linemen, you got a pretty good chance of  getting better all of the time because they work a it.”

The linemen have being pushing around “the creature,” the six-man blocking sled. “It’s been slumbering for a while, so I taped it up, put some jerseys on (the pads) and painted a couple of faces on it,” Candaele said. “They’re pushing the creature around in what we call the ‘fourth quarter.’’’

The Warriors have an experienced quarterback to work behind the line in junior Vance Keiser (6-0, 155). He became the starter half way through last season and led the team to a CIF playoff berth. 

“Vance does a nice job running the game,” said Candaele. 

Will Collins, a 6-5 sophomore, is backing up Keiser. 

Candaele has several sophomores on the varsity team. He said as many as five will be starting on defense.

“They’re going to learn on the run. They’re going to be really good players,” he said.

Seniors Leo Vargas (5-7, 165) and Vince Gonzales (5-9, 195) have been competing for the starting running back spot, while junior Isaac DeAlba (5-9, 165) moves from linebacker to fullback this season.

Terrell Richardson is a strong, athletic wide receiver. Click to view larger
Terrell Richardson is a strong, athletic wide receiver. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

The receivers include junior Brady Sturdivan (5-10, 160), sophomore Jacob Mata (5-11, 180), junior Jonathan Mora (5-8, 145) and senior Terrell Richardson (6-2, 192).

Junior Alberto Arroyo returns at kicker. He booted a 48-yard field goal last season. Gonzalez also can kick.

The young defensive unit includes junior Luke Callaway (6-1, 180) and Collins at defensive end; junior Robert Martinez (5-5,155) and sophomores Jacob Macias (5-8, 145) and Ever Santamaria (5-9, 172) at linebackers; senior Luis Vasquez (5-7, 160) and juniot Chris Ramirez (5-7, 135) at defensive back.

Candaele made it clear when it took over the job that he’s building a team for this year.

“As soon as you say we’re building for the future, your seniors are going to say, ‘What about this year.’ We plan to take care of business day to day right now,” said. “We want to win the (Frontier League) championship. That’s our goal.”

Carpinteria opens the season on Friday, Sept.  1 with a home game against Santa Ynez.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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