Crews becomes chief of the Aztecs
By Patrick Dillon
farmersville – When Mike Crews retired from head football coaching in 2010, after 26 years, there was always a thought in the back of his mind of what it would be like to do it one last time. Well as of Feb. 28, Crews does not need to think about it anymore as he was named the new head football coach of the Farmersville Aztecs.
“I’m thrilled, excited, humbled and honored,” said Crews. “To be in a profession where you can influence young kids to become good men, husbands and fathers is incredible.”
Crews first learned the game of football on the fields of Monache High School wearing the blue and gold of the Marauders. There he learned both sides of the ball playing quarterback and defensive back.
Graduating in 1971 Crews began to attend Porterville College but did not feel quite in place. So, after a few months Crews dropped out and joined the army. While, among the last to serve in Vietnam Crews began to realize what he needed to do.
Following his service in the army Crews returned to Porterville College on an academic scholarship before completing his degree at Sacramento State in order to become a teacher. Interested in coaching it wasn’t until Crews was hired by Mike Bellottoie at Cal State Hayward in 1981 that he really began to learn what coaching was all about.
“It was tremendous. I thought I knew Ihow to work hard at coaching but at the college level it was totally different,” said Crews.
After just one year Crews made a return trip to Sacramento to be the offensive coordinator at Dell Campo High School until 1984.
In that year Crews returned to the central valley. It was not as an assistant position that Crews was after but at 30 years of age he was now the head coach of the Dinuba Emperors.
And that is where a trend of bringing programs back to success began. Bythe fourth year the Emperors were the champions of their respected league as well as qualifying for the playoffs year, after year.
If it had not been for Ray Strable, who persuaded Crews to come to Exeter in 1991, Crews very well might have stayed in Dinuba. But Crews decided to go with Strable’s advice and take not only the head coaching job but become the athletic director for Exeter Union High School as well.
There Crews had his meeting with students from the small community of Farmersville most notably a linebacker by the name of Victor Ramos. Certainly the interaction with the kids from this small community left a lasting impression on Crews.
However, 1993 held one of the bitterest moments for Crews in his coaching career. The Monarchs had tied for second in the East Yosemite League(EYL). That meant there was a coin flip to see who else would make it to the playoffs. The Monarchs lost and a team that Exeter had beaten by 30 points, in the Tulare Western Mustangs, went on to make it to the semifinals. The second-place finish in the EYL was still better than the 1-9 Crews finished in his first year.
After that season it was not Crews but his wife that caused the next move. This time it was to Crews hometown of Porterville. But it was not Monache but their rival Porterville High that Crews was coaching. While there Crews brought the Panthers back to contention for a EYL title and ended a losing streak Porterville High had to Monache.
Before calling it quits in 2010 Crews had led the Ridgeview High School Wolfpack back to the playoffs after the school had only won nine games in 12 seasons. Also, led the Selma Bears to their first playoff win in 30 years when they defeated Bakersfield Christian 48-7.
Although Crews has not been far away from the football sidelines as of late helping out with numerous programs. Last season Crews was an assistant coach on the staff of the Bullard Knights.
There is one lesson Crews has learned over his many years of playing and coaching is that football is still just football.
“Bottom line is football is just football and when the ball gets kicked off you can be coaching the Patriots or pop warner, its still the same,” said Crews.
Crews hopes to build on the recent success that the Aztecs have had with winning the East Sierra League two out of the last three years. As well as making a stronger push into the post season toward winning the school’s first valley championship since 2013.
While all that is going on Crews is pleased with the effort that the kids are putting in so far on this new journey.
“It is fun to watch the kids achieve things that when you start the process they didn’t think they could do it,” said Crews. “I really think we can do some great things here.”