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Taking over for a legend is never easy. That’s what David Machuca did at Chaminade when longtime football coach Ed Croson retired after last year.
Most didn’t know who Machuca was.
He was a one-time head coach, but it was just for one season at Bell-Jeff in Burbank before the school shut the program down. Most of his coaching experience is as an assistant, the highest level being at Glendale College. Maybe the most impressive thing on his resume was putting up with Croson as an assistant for eight years.
Machuca doesn’t exactly stand out among the crowd, either.
“I’m 5-foot-7 on a good day,” he said.
But I bet you know who he is now.
In his first year at the helm, Machuca led Chaminade to a 10-win season that ended Friday night in a nail-biting overtime loss to Inglewood, 41-38, in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals.
No, the Eagles don’t have any silverware to show for winning 10 games. No, this isn’t a proverbial participation trophy in the form of ink. But after doubling last season’s win total, there’s no question Machuca is the right man for the job.
“I’m confident in who I am and what I can do,” Machuca said.
At one point, the Eagles were 8-0 with wins over Oaks Christian, JSerra and Bishop Amat. The JSerra win marked the first time Chaminade ever beat a Trinity League team, and the Bishop Amat win came on the road at La Puente, another program first. Chaminade’s double-digit win season is the first since 2013.
The program was on the cusp of being a Division 1 playoff team and was likely one win away from earning a berth to the Southern Section’s top division. Nevertheless, Chaminade is headed in the right direction under Machuca, and his players are reaping the benefits, too.
Quarterback Javance Johnson had the best season of his high school career. Isaiah Chisom is one of the most coveted linebackers in the state. Junior safety Marquis Gallegos is the best at his position this side of the Mississippi. Jaelon Barbarin now has multiple NCAA Division I offers after transferring from Simi Valley. Junior defensemen Cody Francke and TJ Ford are rising stars, and Kwazi Gilmer – a transfer from Palisades – will be one of the most dynamic wideouts in the area next year.
“My number one goal is to have the most kids signed out of our school,” Machuca said. “We have 16 guys with offers right now.”
There are local coaching vacancies in the San Fernando Valley. Notre Dame Sherman Oaks and Crespi are in search of new head coaches. Mater Dei, Servite to JSerra in the Trinity League are looking too. Those programs may want to look at what Chaminade did in choosing Machuca, instead of going for a big-name, splash hire.
“I love the players and they love me,” Machuca said.
Ten wins in one year sounds pretty good.
“Mater Dei probably still doesn’t know who I am,” Machuca said laughing.