Q&A with Los Al football coach John Barnes

Los Alamitos High football program has been under the leadership of head coach John Barnes for over 40 years now. Over the years the Griffins have had some success, and they will be looking to add to their successful tradition this year. Barnes has been bolstering his squad this summer by entering his team in a couple passing tournaments and summer practices.Fall practices began August 13 and the Griffins are looking sharp, and are well on their way to make a run at the league title. OCNN caught up with Barnes recently during their first week back and got to ask what he thinks about this year’s squad.What’s your outlook on this year’s season?“We got a lot of returning players. We have about 11 to 12 starters on both sides back, and we have a lot of really good athletes. Probably the best we’ve had in the past four or five years.We’ve covered some bases. Right now after two days of practice we still need a ton of work but we’re on the right path. I think we’re expecting big things.”How far do you see your team making it in the league?“Well you know everybody always says, ‘we’re going to win the CIF title.’ Our goal is to win our league and then go win the CIF title. It is two steps. Win your league first then go and win the CIF title.”With the amount of talented players you have on your squad, is there any egos that get in the way of practice?“This is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached for good attitude. We don’t have any divas. You know guys who look the other way when we talk. They are just really good kids and they are hard-working guys.”How do you feel about your team’s summer league performances?“We had a great summer camp. They worked hard. We did a lot of good things. Passing league, we went to the tournament in UCLA and finished second, with about 20 or something teams. At the Edison tournament we beat Bosco in the first game of the tournament. That was really good, after that we didn’t do as great on defense as we’d like, but we did on offense. We scored a lot of points. We played by far the toughest bracket down there: Serra, Bosco, Centennial Corona. It was the who’s who of football. We played real well.”Yeah, you guys played really well over the summer and you have some talented players on your squad. What do you believe is the strongest part of this Los Alamitos football squad?“I don’t know. We just have a good team.”You guys have been playing hard this summer. How do you feel about this year’s squad?“Yeah we’re good. We have to be better coached. We need to have more enthusiasm, but we’re just starting. I’ve done this for 44 years. I don’t panic. Every day is a process to try and get better. We were better this morning than we were on Saturday. Hopefully we will be better this afternoon. That’s why we watch film and do all this to get better. Then it’s up to the players to do it. They have got to want it as bad as the coaches do.”You’ve been coaching here a while now. How do you keep it fresh?“I’m always excited. I woke at five this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. I told myself I need to sleep but I couldn’t. I’m excited. I want to get down here and watch some film from the other day. Start the day and get out on the practice field. That’s something I have no control over. It’s just who I am. It’s in me. That’s who I am. It’s never been a job. It’s always been a joy. It’s difficult at times, and frustrating at times but the whole process has been a fun thing for me. And we’ve had a lot of success. If I hadn’t won a bunch of championships and games I’d probably wouldn’t be here right now. I still enjoy it.”With all the success there will inevitably be some hurdles your team will need to get over. What do you think is your team’s biggest obstacle this season?“We need to get game experience as fast as possible, and get confident in games.”How do you feel about this year’s league?“Tough. Everybody but Marina can win it. It’s going to be a competitive league.”Who are you top players to look out for?“Denzal Brantley, Styler White at safety, runningback, and Devon Cornea at corner, runningback. Jake Stouffer and Jon Jennings the two big defensive tackles, and Matt Locher at linebacker. Blake Johnson at linebacker. Jack Delanko our quarterback. Joe Wysocki.”What do people need to know about Los Alamitos this year?“They’ll know they’ve been in a tough game when the game is on, and we are going to be real good.”

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