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Brian Barnes Replaced as Tesoro's Football Coach

The seemingly popular—and successful—coach is cut loose without public explanation. In six seasons, his teams were 47-23.

Brian Barnes, who successfully transitioned Tesoro High from a Division IX football program to a competitive team in the Southern Section's marquee division, the Pac-5, has been replaced as the program's head coach with one game remaining.

Tesoro, which reached the section semifinals last season and has spent much of this season in the state's top 20 rankings, will end its season on Friday with a nonleague road game against Chula Vista of the San Diego Section.

Tesoro is 6-3 this season, but 1-3 in the five-team South Coast League following a stunning loss on Friday to San Clemente, 29-21. In that game, San Clemente scored three touchdowns in the final four minutes; two of the scores came in the last minute. It was Tesoro's third loss in a row, preceded by losses to El Toro, 41-31, and Mission Viejo, 55-32.

The loss sealed Tesoro's absence from this year's playoffs; instead, the two at-large berths will likely go to teams from the Serra or Trinity leagues.

Before the loss to San Clemente, Tesoro was ranked No. 15 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

Barnes could not be reached, but a spokesman for the Capistrano Unified School District said that this was a personnel decision and that personnel decisions are made at the district level, not the school level. The decision was made on Monday.

"John Hall will be the interim coach of the Tesoro football team for the rest of the season," said spokesman Marcus Walton.

Hall is the team's defensive coordinator.

But Walton stopped short of saying that the decision was permanent, and wouldn't acknowledge that Barnes had been fired.

"No one has said that Brian Barnes has been fired as the head coach at Tesoro High School," Walton said.

Walton did not provide much of a timeline for naming a permanent replacement—assuming Barnes isn't coming back. 

"There will be an announcement about the head coaching situation in time for preparation for next year," Walton said.

Barnes will remain a teacher in the district.

The move comes as a surprise to many because of the enthusiastic and optimistic coach's success and apparent popularity. He was, according to one school official, everything that his predecessor, Jim O'Connell, was not.

Though O'Connell led Tesoro in its infancy to a couple of small school championships, the program was 1-9 in 2006. Barnes was brought aboard from Estancia, where he had coached one year, for the 2007 season.

The team went 7-4 his first season, and won the South Coast League title, breaking Mission Viejo's seven-year streak as champion.

The following season Tesoro lost its only game in the section finals, 20-17, to Long Beach Poly.

In six seasons with Tesoro, Barnes' teams were a combined 47-23; prior to that, he coached Estancia to a 7-4 record.

This will be only the second time that Tesoro failed to qualify for the playoffs under Barnes' guidance.

Editor's note: Because of a series of coin flips Tesoro won with two other teams tied with it in the standings, Tesoro made the playoffs.

Andromeda October 31, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Charles, there are 11 players on each side of the ball. The kicker is just as eligible to tackle the offensive ball carrier as the other 10 defensive players. From the video tape that kicker appeared to be a pretty good sized kid. If you've ever played football on special teams you would know that one defensive player is generally assigned to block the kicker. That's part of the game, Charles. If the kicker makes the tackle the offensive player failed in his blocking assignment. It sounds like you're trying to change the rules of football on this board or that you simply don't understand how the game is played. Kickers must pay attention to activity on the field and understand that they are just subject to being blocked. That's the game of football.
Charles October 31, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Not trying to change the rules. Just questioning the use of a blocking resource on a player (the kicker) who is statistically unlikely to make or contribute to a tackle. In other words, why waste a blocker on a kicker? Dedicate blocking resources to the kick off team's known tacklers. That's pretty much the way it is usually done. Going out of your way to waste a resource on a kicker is not normally good strategy. The exception being if the kicker also happens to be a significant tackling threat - not too common.
Tom October 31, 2012 at 09:14 PM
No it was a bounty hit with a reward of "good job" not all bountys have to be done for monetary reasons...also it was meant to injure the player the way he did it...like i said you don't know the details of what was said like i do on the inside ...that's why he was fired..it was intentional, blatant and instructional to go out there and take out the kicker and we all know Andro how great the kickers are at tackling now do we...lol..
Truth October 31, 2012 at 11:18 PM
There is more to Barnes' firing than the cheap shot taken by his player. Barnes has been under "scrutiny" from the district due to some "questionable" recruiting of players from the Inland Empire. This hit may have been the straw that broke the camels back, but there is a lot more to the story. Barnes, by the way, is/was not nearly as "popular" with players, parents or coaches as the article suggests.
Titan67 November 01, 2012 at 03:42 AM
This article is vague and does not hit on the real issue. High school athletics are supposed to encourage teamwork, comradery, confidence building and set a foundation for an adolescent to develops morals and decision making into adulthood. Not to mention, athletics are supposed to be FUN. The moment a coach, mentor, trainer or player starts veering from the path to support these values, he or she should be removed. There is zero tolerance in developing young men and women to perform under such childish behavior as in the "bounty hit" or alleged drug promotion. Under O'Connell, the team may have been sluggish to start (oh by the way their first season was composed of all sophomores and freshmen with 8 juniors on the field) but at least he instilled the values a young man should carry with him throughout his life. He may not have been most liked by his peers, but his number one priority was the safety and morale well being of his students, players, and the opposing teams players. Barnes may have produced numbers, but what were his means in producing these statistics? Stop looking at the result and start focusing on the bigger issues. I'll get off my pedestool now. -67
Tom November 01, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Titan 67 I couldnt have explained it better than that, very well put. Happy Halloween
Andromeda November 01, 2012 at 05:57 AM
The hit that the Tesoro offensive player put on the kicker would have gotten praise from coaches and fellow players back in my day. That's the way the game was designed to be played. Football was never meant to be a warm and fuzzy game. People who didn't want to risk contact simply stayed off the field. Good solid legitimate hits were the mark of a good football player. And as long as the kicker was eligible to tackle the offensive ball carrier - he was fair game. On the teams that I played for an offensive player on the kickoff return team was assigned to take the kicker out of the play so that he could not make the tackle. That's simply the way the game it played. You people sound as if you want to change the entire character of the game. Why don't you propose that blocking another player is simply prohibited? In fact, make both blocking or tackling illegal. The players could just tap one another on their helmets with their pinkies and that one who gets tapped first must freeze. Make it like a girl's powder puff league. lol.
Gary November 01, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Quote Andromeda: "Was there a penalty on that block following the play? If not, it would seem to dilute your argument that intentional blocks on a kicker are not allowed in Orange County football." Yes, there was a flag thrown by the ref on the 50-yard line. He throws the flag it in the direction of the hit where it lands about 6-8yrds from the kicker.
Charles November 01, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Were you a kicker who took too many hits? We wonder because you continue to misread what other posters are writing. Nobody is suggesting the game be changed - despite your intention of promoting your tough guy image.
Martin Henderson (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 03:22 PM
A referee did toss either a flag or a marker toward the spot of the collision; the only penalty I can think of that would cover this play is Unnecessary Roughness. A coach I spoke to said that his staff doesn't teach that, and it's the first time he's ever seen it done, but he agreed with me that it's a legal block within the confines of the rules and it may one day become the new normal. How many times has a kicker been the one who made a tackle or altered the running line of the returner that allowed the tackle? It happens every Friday night somewhere. And every Friday night there is a player who gets taken out of a play like that, and on Monday he's given a sticker for his helmet because of the "de-cleater." Frankly, trying to get in the kicker's head and make him think about getting hit rather than drilling a kickoff through the end zone isn't a bad idea, and I'm sure there are a lot of coaches out there who privately thought, "Why didn't I think of that?" Of course, if it's going to cost you your job, that's going to be a deterrent, and that's why it's important that the truth comes out, because if this play is the reason Barnes was dismissed (rather than suspended) then it sets a precedent that will interesting ramifications. Once you do it this to the opposing kicker, wouldn't a team respond likewise? That may be as important a reason as any as to why we've never seen this before. Video and poll are here: http://patch.com/A-zk7t
Andromeda November 01, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I'm not being a tough guy. I'm just explaining to you how the game of football is designed. From your earlier comment you seem unfamiliar with strategies on the football field. Kickers on high school football teams are usually good athletes and play other positions besides kicker. I don't know anything about the kicker who got blocked, but my guess is that he played other positions on the team too. Kickers tackle the kickoff returner too. So blocking a kicker is not wasting a resource, as you mentioned earlier. If the returner makes it past the first wave of defensive players it is up to the kicker to stop him. That's why an offensive player on the kickoff return team is generally assigned to take him out of the play. Suggesting that the kicker should not be blocked is just foolish. I've never known a team that ascribes to your suggestion. That's my point.
Tom November 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM
It did cost him his job and he didn't think about the ramifications before he ordered the hit. I coach girl's softball, I know it's a totally different sport but batters get hit all the time unintentionally, it's when you tell your pitcher to hit the batter intentionally is when it gets dicey and the rules are broken, injuries can occur and as a coach your taking the risk of getting caught and suffering the consequences. This is what happened to Barnes and he paid the price. It's like telling you pass rushers to take out the QB at the knees in order to injure him and put him out of the game it's one thing if a kid does it on his own it's another if the coach orders it to be done..
Andromeda November 01, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Martin, I want to know whether the Tesoro team was actually penalized for that block. Flags are sometimes thrown inadvertently without penalties being marked off. For the penalty you suggested it would have been a 15 yarder. As a lifelong football spectator I have seen kickers and other special team defensive players get absolutely creamed and there was never a penalty flag thrown for it - as long as the block was not in the back or helmet to helmet contact or holding. Kickers getting hit after the kickoff is nothing new to football. And all kickers that I knew realized that and took precautions after kicking the football. As I watched the video again it appeared that the kicker had time to react to the blocker but his attention seemed to be elsewhere. Perhaps he was watching the flight of the ball. I don't know. But all players on the field must understand that football is a contact sport. Everyone is subject to getting hit. I suspect that the kicker will be more cognizant of that in the future.
Andromeda November 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Your analogy is all wet. Telling a football player to block an opposing player is totally legitimate whether you disagree or not. Telling a softball pitcher to throw a beanball at an opposing batter in not legitimate. And any coach who would instruct a pitcher to do that should get fired. But, again, you have shown us no proof whatsoever that any coach on Tesoro instructed one or more of their players to injure any player on any opposing team.
Mike Proctor November 01, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Part 1 http://www.ocvarsity.com/video/?videoId=1934613670001 This has been a nice debate. I have to side with Andromeda. I'm glad the player wasn't hurt, but this was nothing but real football. This isn't Little League, soccer or Pop Warner. As a parent, I would not want to see my son take a hit like that, and I am sure it would have upset me, but football is a risky, and a violent physical sport. If you can't except that, then don't let your child play the game, especially at a high school level. The video broadcaster said a their was a penalty flag. I'm not sure how the hit could be deemed illegal. Andro has covered it pretty well how the hit WAS legal and with in the rules. No way could it have been unnecessary roughness as Martin spoke of....it was a clean, hard hit. The kicker was eligible to make a tackle, so he is eligible to be blocked. The Kicker needed to be aware of what was going on, instead of watching the path of his ball.
Mike Proctor November 01, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Part II If you change the rules to make it illegal to block the kicker on a kick off, then you would need to make sure the kicker is not eligible to make a tackle. The use of the word "Bounty Hit" is getting over used, just like the word "bully". When I played, the players were always looking to put the hurt on. "Hit, or be hit" was the line we always used. Its FOOTBALL! I think what made this hit look so bad, is the kicker just forgot to protect himself, and got drilled...it looked terrible, but in the end it was a legal hit, and part of the game. Part II I can't see this coach being removed just for this. There has to be more issues in the closet that have not been released yet. JMO
Mike November 01, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Titan67, All your points are good, except for the comments about O'Connell. I was heavily involved there. My son was in the first graduating class at Tesoro. I have enough bad O'Connell stories to fill a large book. Don't kid yourself. He was the worst. I am sure that whatever Barnes did to get the axe was enough to deserve it. Those decisions are not made lightly. And I was at the ET game. The hit WAS penalized, was enough for one to sit up and take notice, and was NOT dirty or an attempt to injure the kicker. I see worse hits during most games. Punishable, sure. Worthy of dismissal? No. I guarantee you that when this all comes out there will be "recruitment" issues somewhere involved.
Andromeda November 01, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Mike, I'm curious. Why do you think that block was "punishable"? Does the kicker have more rights on the field than the other players? If so, please point to the reg that says so. What should the Tesoro player have done? Allow the kicker to run down the field untouched and make a play on the ball carrier? Or just stand in front of him and verbally order him to stop? What would you suggest?
John November 01, 2012 at 11:56 PM
About the El Torro kicker getting tackled. He needs to suck it up and this is football. You are going to get tackled and if u are going to cry like a baby and sue because u got tackled u might as well just end your football career.
Charles November 02, 2012 at 12:33 AM
You're right John. This is a disgrace. In fact, let's take it one step further and eliminate the El Toro football program. Formal charges should be filed against the kicker's parents and the kicker should be enrolled in mandatory counseling.
The Fletcher Family November 02, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Coaching comes with a high level a responsibility. To which, I believe, Coach Barnes failed to realize. Rude behavior, lack of consideration, and continual inappropriate comments directed at children seemed to be all too common for this guy. I think his removal from the Tesoro Team was long overdue!
Tom November 02, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Well to end this debate on a good note, this has been fun....I still think your all getting it wrong though. Never did anybody say it was an illegal block. Never did I or anyone else comment that we want to see football change from being a physical, rough game. What i said is this and only this, when a coach orders a blatant hit on a player that could cause physical damage and yes kickers are different from other players in the fact that they are vulnerable at times during field goals, punts and in this case a kick off, that those types of coaches need not be coaching high school football whatsoever. Hits like the one that was given to Howard was not as bad as some that could injure but if Barnes ordered that one up and it was proven that he did due to myself having inside information in this case, what else has he done in the past and what more will he do in the future with his players. Coaches like this need to be off the football field and in the stands watching. Sooner or later a directly ordered hit will injure a player and then what..? To damn late huh..? Like I said before when a player takes it upon himself to inflict harsh hits then hey it's all fair game but when the coach teaches it as protocol it's absolutely wrong.. Go El Toro !! Kick Missions ass tomorrow night....
Tom November 02, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Also note this, Barnes knows that almost every time Howard kicks off, the ball is never ran back due to it being so deep or out of the in zone, this kid has such a powerful leg he almost can put the damn thing through the uprights on the kick off, so why order the hit on the kicker..? Knowing that can you explain why Barnes told his blocker to hit Howard after the kick off so hard...? There wasnt any reason except for frustration for not being able to run the ball back or something else.
Mike November 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Andromeda, I think you misunderstood my comment. I meant that if Barnes ordered the strategy as a means of taking a very good kicker out of the game, then I would consider it punishable to him, not means for dismissal. IF THAT IS THE CASE.......... BTW, I was at the game, and the play WAS flagged and stepped off, for what that is worth. I'm just saying that the only people that matter, the officials on the field, deemed it a penalty offense. Not saying I agree with that or not. Another interesting comment I heard from a parent in the Tesoro stands was that it was payback for ET having done the same thing to the Tesoro kicker last year. I have no way of verifying that fact, but if it is true I would think we would have already heard it....
Richard Abeyta November 03, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Everybody has an opinion on this coach being dismissed for his last game of the year. No one has said that he will not be allowed to coach again. I can assure you that he was not dismissed for instructing one of his players to put this hit on the kicker. I am glad that the kicker is apparently OK after this hit. The real issue with this coach is that he is a cheater. We have heard from previous players that he had coached, that he encouraged the use of steroids in the locker room. Was this hit evidence of steroid rage? These kids have not yet reached full maturity and the coach is recommending performance enhancing drugs. The coach also apparently tried to cheat and recruit players from Riverside County. Does he think this is the Trinity League or what? Apparently the issue with this cheating coach is not just a hard hit on the kicker.
Lisa miller November 03, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Maybe he will go coach at Los alamitos when his dad retires. And hopefully he will have learned his lesson.
De oppresso liber November 06, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Andromeda you are Brian Barnes, trying to make light your cowardice actions. Hiding behind a fictitious name/s is in-line with your character. Interesting to me how persistent you have been to keep yourself blameless in this dialog. Also how well some people in this discussion know very specific details about you; use hormones or IGF-1 (Human Growth Hormone) and verbally abuses every player who isn't a starter....encouraging players to eat 6 PB & J sandwiches a day, and eat several bowls of ice cream at night. You have no respect for the sport, no respect for the kids and no respect for yourself. You are a coward trying to be a tough guy. As for the intent: 1. The ball was kicked into the in zone, there was no return from El Toro, Therefore, who was Parker Wells blocking for? answer: no one. The intent was to give to kicker Roger Howard, a great kicker, out of the game. I have seen too many unnecessary actions on the field. I love this sport, I have played football and coached football for many years. If we are going to keep this wonderful sport for future generations, let's keep honor and dignity on the field.
De oppresso liber November 06, 2012 at 08:57 AM
Thank you Truth, Barnes needs to find another job or have the administrators from the school district remove him permanently. The people and parents and high school students of El Toro want their administrators to take care of Barnes. El Toro is trusting their officials from the school district to do the right thing. I can only hope for the administrators to do the right thing and permanently keep Barnes and his negative influence away from these young men. I will be watching the actions form the administrators; do not use the union as an excuse from doing the right thing.
KARMA November 08, 2012 at 03:53 AM
While I don't have a player playing Football at Tesoro I have sons who attend or attended Tesoro and have many friends on the football team. I do not know a single player or parent that has an ounce of respect for Coach Barnes. This almost happened at the end of last season and the comments from the former Tesoro player are dead on. Coach Barnes got exactly what he deserved and I think the hit on the El Toro player was a good excuse to remove him. I cant tell you the number of kids that loved football that stopped playing, and one even transferred to another school his senior season so he did not have to play for Barnes. God forbid you were a multi-sport athlete. He would abuse that kid in front of the other players and convince the older players to do the same. Good riddance Coach Barnes, I hope with all the great press you have created for yourself you now have to find a real job. A coach is supposed to be a leader and a great mentor for young athletes and you are neither.
J.P November 21, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Let me begin by saying I have not seen the video. I am, however, a former head coach for a high school football team. My team was a perennial also-ran. But every week I did my best to give my team the best chance at winning. With a powerhouse opponent approaching, I watched film after film of the opponents kicker placing the ball deep in the end zone, meaning each possession would begin at the twenty. With each film watched, the other teams continued to drop back as if they would run a kickoff return. And each time, the whistle blew and the play was over. I changed my kickoff return, inserting fullbacks and linebackers into the front line and sending them forward to hit the opponent while the ball was in the air. And, yes, I saved my biggest, meanest guy to send after the kicker. We knocked him in the mud on the first kick (which went into the end zone afterward), and he was upset and pleading with the referees, to no avail. It was a legal hit because the ball was still in the air when the hit took place. But I never gave the instruction to hurt the opposing kicker. That would constitute a huge difference in my opinion. I definitely wanted to win, but within the rules of the game. That kicker began to place his kicks in play, which was my ultimate goal. I'm not sure if the hit on the opening kickoff was the difference, and quite frankly, I don't care. We still lost, by the way, pissing off the powerhouse team along the way. But I don't regret doing it.

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