New Weed High School head football coach Glenn Gonzales says he and a staff of “all-star” assistants are excited about the Cougars’ future.

Gonzales, a former Siskiyou Knights Unlimited head coach, was a Cougar assistant football coach in recent years and took over the softball team partway through the season this past spring.

He said 15 players have been participating in a summer weightlifting and conditioning program, and he hopes to have upwards of 20 on the roster when fall arrives.

“They’re go-getters,” Gonzales said of the Cougars who are onboard so far. “They’ve got great attitudes and are excited to play.”

He said many of them are returning players from the 2016 Cougar team that played its first season of 8-man football in the California-North league with Dunsmuir, Butte Valley, Big Valley, Happy Camp, Hayfork, Redding Christian and Tulelake.

“We learned a lot about 8-man last year,” Gonzales said this past weekend during Carnevale. “It’s a faster pace, and you can’t have your quarterback taking six or seven seconds to throw a pass. He has to be rid of the ball in three seconds.”

Gonzales, who works for the Post Office, said he got involved with the Siskiyou Knights youth football program many years ago when his sons were playing. He’s been helping with the Cougars’ program since former Knights coaches Byron Mathes and Darren Lonnon became the WHS co-head coaches in 2013.

Mathes resigned as Weed’s head coach after the 2016 season, while Lonnon left earlier to help at Mount Shasta.

Gonzales said Adam Zwanziger, a Cougar football coach for several years, is the 2017 defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Other Weed assistants include former head coach Dan DeRoss, baseball head coach Josh Oates, and John Wayne Gregory, who has also served as the Knights Unlimited head coach.

Gonzales said he also expects to get help from Mathes, who is continuing as the president of the Knights program.

The new coaches are emphasizing “team,” Gonzales said. “When they come together as a team, that’s how you win.”

He said players have been working out three days a week and “are showing up every day and giving everything they have.”

“The attitude has to be there,” Gonzales said. “We can teach them about the game of football, but I tell them, ‘We can’t teach you heart.’ It’s about attitudes and the way they show up and work.”

A receiver, safety and kicker during his playing days at Santa Rosa High School, Gonzales said he enjoys working with kids. He sees the goal of the program as “building kids into better young men. If we can do that, it doesn’t matter what our record is.”

Toward that goal, he said, “We’ve always had an open-door policy with parents and kids.”

The Cougars are scheduled to start practice Aug. 1, and they open the non-league portion of their schedule at Dunsmuir on Aug. 25. They’ll then play three home games in a row, including the league-opener against Dunsmuir Sept. 15, before going on the road for four games in a row and finishing the regular season with two home games.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Gonzales said.

Weed High School also has a new head boys basketball coach, former Cougar Robert West, who is following in the footsteps of his father Bob West and grandfather Mike Carpine as a WHS hoops head coach.