May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

New Foothill coach Yousof Etemadi excited about the prospects for the Knights

Foothill coach Yousof Etemadi talks with sophomore Jacob Horton during a timeout Thursday. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Foothill High’s first year boys basketball coach Yousof Etemadi experienced the excitement and intensity of the annual crosstown battle between the Knights and Tustin for the first time as a head coach Thursday night.

Etemadi, who used to be an assistant coach at Foothill before becoming interim coach at Northwood last year filling in for Tim O’Brien, said he was excited to be a part of it.

Tustin won the game 54-45 in front of a big crowd at Tustin.

“It’s amazing, you can’t really duplicate this in high school basketball very often,” he said. “It’s a great experience for the kids, the staff gets riled up, the community gets riled up and we’re really gifted to be able to play in this game every year.”

Etemadi has been impressed with what he’s seen of his Foothill squad and said progress has been made in his first year.

“It’s been going really good,” said Etemadi. “I’m really proud of the way they’re working. We won seven games last year and we’re already at six. Our boys are working hard and we have a good group of seniors who come into work every day.

“But we also have a good group of young kids. There is a bright future here at Foothill. There are a lot of resources and a good community and we have a good young group.”

Etemadi said he the Knights have gotten solid performances from a number of players.

“It’s a different guy every night,” he said. “Our young guys have played pretty well, Braedyn Benhard, Jacob Horton, Mikey Mazurie are three sophomores who are going to be pretty solid and then with the seniors we have a different mix every night who come in to give us solid minutes.”

The goal is to help Foothill return to its glory days of a couple years ago.

“Foothill has always been on top,” he said. “Rusty (former coach Van Cleave) has done a great job here. Our goal is to turn it back around and make it a destination where the public school kids want to play and don’t want to leave to go other places. That’s what’s happened the last couple of years.

“We want to make sure people know that Foothill is here to stay and we have a good program here for kids to play in and go to school.”

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