May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran’s new head football coach Rick Curtis excited about next challenge

Rick Curtis joined Crean Lutheran’s staff this week. (Photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Crean Lutheran’s new head varsity football coach Rick Curtis began the next chapter in his life this week.

Curtis, former coach and athletic director at Capo Valley Christian, joined the Crean Lutheran staff on Thursday.

“I’m super excited, the parent group and the administration has just been fantastic with the energy they have to build a program,” Curtis said in a recent interview at Crean Lutheran. “This is something I couldn’t pass up.”

Curtis replaces Randall Reynoso, who resigned to take the head coaching job at El Toro. Reynoso had a 7-13 overall record in two seasons. Crean Lutheran was 0-10 in league play during that time. The Saints were 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the Empire League last season.

Curtis said he has already established some goals and knows there are challenges ahead.

“Winning is always fun and of course it’s important, but right now we have to be competitive,” he said. “That would be the biggest challenge right now is making our football program competitive because the Empire League is a tough league. Getting them in the mindset that they can compete in the Empire League and then just taking it one step at a time and work on the process of getting to be a solid football program. The foundation is there, now we have to take it to the next level.”

Curtis will also teach at Crean Lutheran and will be the director of athletic leadership, assisting Athletic Director Eric Olson.

“They created a schedule for me to be the director of operations for football, head football coach and I’m going to be working on the athletic leadership program while mentoring coaches,” Curtis said.

“We’re going to be making sure they’re in compliance, CIF regulation-wise and helping Eric out in the athletic department but also mentoring them and growing them as coaches, which I do in the Concordia University program as an adjunct professor. It just kind of fit.”

Curtis appears to have the credentials that Crean Lutheran officials were looking for. They wanted a coach with a strong Christian beliefs and one who had extensive head coaching experience. In addition, he has an extensive background in Irvine, having held head coaching positions at University, Irvine and Northwood. At Northwood, he started up the program and led the Timberwolves to the CIF quarterfinals three times and the CIF semifinals and finals once.

“It’s just a great match for me and our family,” he said. “It’s like homecoming. It feels like home.”

Olson, the athletic director, said school officials were thrilled that Curtis was coming on board.

“I would like to welcome Coach Rick Curtis to the Crean Lutheran family and express my sincere excitement for the Saints football program and our entire school. Rick will be a great addition to our excellent faculty and coaching staff here at CLHS.

“He is a highly qualified coach, an amazing football mind, and he is focused on the personal growth and spiritual development of his players. I have known Rick personally for many years and followed his coaching career. I have always admired his approach to mentoring and developing his football players as well as his expertise in the game. Coach Curtis is a competitor who always strives to win, but more importantly, he is a process-orientated coach who cares about all his players beyond the football field.

“Coach Curtis will be transformational in the lives of his players, not only during their four years as a football player for the Saints but in their lives for many years to come.”  

Curtis said intervews are under way for assistant coaches.

It will be the second experience at a private school for Curtis, who also coached at Santa Margarita.

“The challenge in this community is making sure the kids that are here are mission appropriate,” he said. “That’s what excites me about the program. They have a mission, they have a vision, they have a plan.”

Curtis said he will miss working at Capo Valley Christian.

“It’s a great school and I loved being there,” he said. “It was really a hard decision, agonizing really because the people there were fantastic to me. They were great. The kids were great, it was a great experience in a Christian organization and I was able to lead the kids closer to Christ. That’s really why I got into private schools for.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com