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Monterey Trail reaps the benefits of program building

By Douglas Benton | NorCalPreps, 06/15/20, 5:15PM PDT

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Storming. Norming. Performing.

This is the mantra TJ Ewing picked up from a fellow teacher as he and his staff looked to create a new program at Monterey Trail starting at the varsity level in 2005.

Storming is setting the culture and dealing with building up a program. This included going 1-19 in the first two years.

Norming is settling in, which saw Monterey Trail improve to five wins in 2007 and make the playoffs in 2008.

Finally, performing. When the details are secure and you start playing fast. For the Mustangs, it was back-to-back SJS section finals appearances in 2009 and 2010, which was just the sixth year of the program.

“We work hard, are always open to ideas on how the process can be more efficient and try to make it easy so we can play faster,” Ewing said of the program’s philosophy. “Kids have seen we are always willing to listen.”

In 2009, Monterey Trail started the current iteration of its junior program. As the program was getting started, the Mustangs’ varsity program missed the playoffs from 2011-2013, but have made the playoffs every year since including two more section finals appearances in 2018 and 2019.

Ewing, who grew up in San Mateo, prepped at Aragon High School and College of San Mateo before going to Eastern Washington. It was there that Ewing found his passion for teaching when he coached a padded football camp in 1994.

He coached at Lewis & Clark High School in 1995, where he adopted the veer offense that has helped Monterey Trail become one of the top rushing teams in the region. Following a stint as a grad assistant at Eastern Washington, Ewing returned to the Bay Area to take over San Mateo High School. In five years at the school, Ewing took a program that went 1-19 the previous two years and improved the win total each of the five seasons he was there. San Mateo won the 2003 CCS Division III title before Ewing and longtime friend Rick Arcuri left for Monterey Trail as the head football coach and athletic director respectively.

“I didn’t know much about Sacramento football,” Ewing said on making the move. “We were right in the middle of five schools. We are competitive people. We aren’t quitters.”

Now, they are on the short lists of top programs in the area and poised for another run in 2020.

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