For Elsie Allen football coach Bill Wight, even the small victories are important.
Like when the Lobos were down “only” 20-6 in the second quarter earlier this year.
Like when a defensive player makes a tackle for a loss.
Heck, even scoring multiple touchdowns in a single game is cause for celebration.
It’s been so long since Elsie Allen actually notched a victory, reaching for that brass ring might be pretty bold. Maybe it’s better to just strive for incremental improvements.
In his first season at Elsie, Wight brings with him the fresh optimism of a new coach taking on a program that has nowhere to go but up. When he accepted the head coach position, he actually called it his “dream job.”
Reality is tough to ignore, though.
“Giving up as many points as we’re giving up is painful,” said Wight, who was a defensive coordinator at his last coaching job.
One can sympathize. Elsie, at 0-3 this year, has lost by scores of 77-0, 60-20 and 53-0. Opponents have scored 8.5 times as many points as the Lobos.
“But from where we started, it’s not so bad,” Wight said.
Where they started is here:
One win in the past three seasons.
Three wins in the past seven seasons.
Nine wins total in the past 12 seasons.
That makes the Lobos 9-102 since 2004.
The seniors on the team have seen Elsie Allen win just one football game in their entire high school experience.
Wight and athletic director Madison Lott chalk some of that up to a culture at the school that for years didn’t celebrate athletics and has accepted losing as status quo.
“Our school spends a lot of time feeling sorry for itself. That holds our kids back,” said Lott, who coached football last year and still coaches boys basketball.
“I always tell our kids, ‘You can’t allow yourself to feel bad about something, you have to find a way to rectify the situation.’ We emphasize that it’s OK to achieve greatness.”
The historically weak football program may also have cultural roots, the coaches said.
The soccer program had 60 kids show up.
“There’s no commitment to the (football) program,” Lott said. “I had more kids in basketball conditioning in the fall than the total we had in our football program. The mindset is they’re going to lose anyway. They want to be part of it, but they don’t want to commit to achieving something.”
There also is no youth football program in the area, like Piner or Montgomery have.
“When you’re not a football school, the kids who want to play football don’t come to Elsie,” Lott said. “Most of our kids who come out for football as freshmen, it’s the first time they’ve played it. It’s a huge eye opener and some don’t want to play anymore.”
After Lott stepped away last year as football coach, the school hired a former NFL practice-team player as head coach. But he only lasted a few months, often not making it to practices because he commuted from the East Bay.
He also was unhappy with the level of skill, football knowledge and commitment of his young athletes, Lott and Wight said.
Rancho Cotate at Casa Grande at SRJC, 7:30 p.m.
Windsor at Ukiah, 7:30 p.m.
Cardinal Newman at Santa Rosa, 7:30 p.m.
Montgomery at Maria Carrillo, 7:30 p.m.
Healdsburg vs El Molino at Windsor, 7:30 p.m.
Sonoma Valley at Petaluma, 7:30 p.m.
Piner at Elsie Allen, 7:30 p.m.
Cloverdale at St. Helena, 7:30 p.m.
Willits at Kelseyville, 7:30 p.m.
Middletown at Lower Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Calistoga at Potter Valley, 7 p.m.
Clear Lake at South Fork, 7:30 p.m.
Tomales at Rincon Valley Christian, 1 p.m.
Anderson Valley at Laytonville, 2 p.m.
Point Arena at Mendocino, 2 p.m.
St. Vincent at Balboa, 2 p.m.