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Doug Caines Takes Charge of Dos Pueblos High Football Team

He steps into head coaching position after being coordinator of outstanding defensive unit; local teams begin practices in pads

Doug Caines, DP football Click to view larger
Dos Pueblos High head football coach Doug Caines watches his players go through a drill on the first day of practice with pads. Caines has been the Chargers’ defensive coordinator the last two seasons. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Doug Caines is back in charge of a football team.

On Monday afternoon, he drove a cart onto the practice field at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, and immediately put the Chargers through the paces of their first practice session in pads.

Caines is now the head coach at DP, taking over for Nate Mendoza, who stepped down after last season to focus on his position as an administrator at the school.

Caines was previously the head coach at Santa Barbara High for two seasons (2012-13) before being unexpectedly dismissed prior to the start of the 2014 campaign.

The past two seasons he served as the defensive coordinator at Dos Pueblos, helping the Chargers win back-to-back Channel League titles and advance to the CIF-SS Division 10 final last fall.

“We have 18 days to go,” said Caines of the preparation time before the 2018 season opener against Orange County’s Foothill High on Aug. 17 at San Marcos’ Warkentin Stadium. 

Dos Pueblos will be playing its home games at San Marcos because the surface at Scott O’Leary Stadium is being bulldozed to put in a turf field and a new all-weather track.

All the area high school football teams held their first practice in full pads Monday, as they prepare for the earlier-than-usual season openers.

The five South Coast schools — Dos Pueblos, Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Bishop Diego and Carpinteria — along with Channel League newcomers Lompoc, Cabrillo and Santa Ynez, begin competition with Week Zero games on Friday, Aug. 17.

Caines is excited about calling the shots as the head coach.

“It’s nice that the buck stops with me again,” he said. “I love Nate to death. We worked so well together, probably better than any other coach I worked with. But there are some things I wanted and the buck stopped with him. I’m a good soldier and I would never cross that line. Now that I get the final say, we’re going to do things my way.”

His way includes being in charge of the defense again. His defense last season allowed just 50 points in Channel League play and 199 in 14 games. The Chargers went 12-2.

“I’ll be the defensive coordinator and Udy Loza, our O-line coach, will be running our offense,” he said. “Interestingly, the last time we coordinated together, we won league (at Santa Barbara High in 2012) and had a home (CIF playoff) berth over there. It’s kind of a return to the old, so to speak.

"We talk about when we get together special things happen, so I’m excited to see how that all shakes out.”

Caines enters the football season after experiencing a devastating loss during the spring. His mother, Jo Ann Caines, the mover-and-shaker principal at La Cumbre Junior High and a rock star in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, passed away.

Jo Ann Caines was described as a courageous leader and a tireless worker who was incredibly passionate about her job as an educator.

Her son is the same way. 

"My mom was my mom because she worked, she was a workhorse,” he said. “I saw that behind the scenes, the late nights, the early mornings. It’s that work ethic that is part of what builds character and builds adults. I’m happy I had the opportunity to see her do that. She set the standard and that’s what I’m trying to do with these kids now is set the standard.

“What it comes down to is work ethic, pride, accountability in what you put forth. That’s her legacy and that’s going to live with me every day.”

Caines said his mom was born into a sports-minded family. Her father was the basketball coach at SBCC in the 1960s.

“She knew as much about sports as any woman, period, and probably more than the average educator,” he said.

But she knew better than to offer coaching advice to her son.

“She understood that there’s nothing worse than the armchair quarterback,” he said. “She talked strategy with me but would never tell me how to coach. We’d talk about structure and discipline but never X’s and O’s.”

The work she did as an educator and administrator in the school district inspired him as a coach.

“The work I put into the pre-practice, the preparation, that all comes from her. And that’s talking about teaching, because that’s all coaching is,” he said.

He learned there is an ugly side to the coaching profession, too.

He was removed as the football coach during the CIF-mandatory 21-day dead period before the beginning of official practice for the 2014 season.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. It was a difference of opinions,” he said of what happened at Santa Barbara High. “They chose not to have me part of that program.”

When Caines was let go, his mom told him to look for the silver lining: “When one door closes, another door opens.”

He found that silver lining in Goleta.

“Here I am off the cusp of a CIF championship run and with a really great team and a special group of boys again this year,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had those opportunities and those experiences had (the dismissal at SBHS) not happened.

Angel Flores, Dos Pueblos lineman Click to view larger
Angel Flores, a 6-foot-5, 345-pound senior tackle, is being recruited by several college programs. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“Was it tough? Yah, absolutely,” he added. “That’s my alma mater and I never planned to leave. But I can’t imagine not being here now. It was meant to be, I guess.”

As the Chargers prepare for the season, Caines said the players haven’t forgotten what happened in last year’s CIF title game at Quartz Hill. They were stopped a half yard short of the winning touchdown on the last play of the game and lost 26-21.

“It has been our rally cry in the weight room for months, since January,” he said. “We will never be a half yard short again. It’s absolutely been our battle cry. We’ve absolutely made a commitment to the weight room, to make sure we will never be a half yard short again.”

The Chargers have plenty of size on the offensive line to get the job done.

Senior tackle Angel Flores is 6-foot-5, 345 pounds and is being recruited by several college programs. 

“He’s really surfaced as a leader,” said Caines.

Roberto Vargas is another 300-pound lineman, and Sunny Graybill (5-8, 190) is a returning starter at guard.

“We’re not the same O-line but we got a couple of big boys who have made a commitment to the weight room as well,” Caines said.

They'll be blocking for a talented group of running backs, led by senior and returning starter Eric Lopez.

"He'll be a special guy," said the coach.

Caines has tremendous passion for football.

“The reason people love the fight sports is because of the nuances,” he explained. “It’s not just brawling. A fighter has to know how to defend, how to counterpunch, know angles and movements. Football is an even more dramatic version of that: 11 guys doing 11 different jobs to cohesively move the ball forward.

“It’s America’s game because of that unique ability to come together and synergize and battle through adversity against and opponent. It’s special. I just love the game. It’s awesome. I love the gamesmanship, the competition.

"I don’t get to play anymore but I get to compete, so to speak. I love it and I try to communicate that passion.”

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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