The Oxnard Union High School District had five head football coach openings in the offseason.
But one job was not like the others, according to James Nelson.
The former Buena High, Ventura College and Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman, who had served as Hueneme High’s run-game coordinator during the Vikings’ run to the section semifinals last fall, saw the position at brand-new Del Sol High as a once-in-a-career opportunity.
“We’re building from the ground up,” Nelson said. “Literally.”
When Nelson was hired in March, there were no jerseys, no pads, no players and no field. Only a construction site on the corner of Camino Del Sol and Rose Avenue in East Oxnard, where a school was rising from former farmland.
“You get to put your handprint on everything,” Nelson said. “Everything will be 100% you.”
It was that opportunity that allowed athletic director Chris Holdsworth to draw some big names as the Jaguars put together their staff of coaches earlier this year.
“I think the big draw was to build something from scratch,” Holdsworth said. “Every coach has that idea, ‘If I was to do things over again, this is what I would do.’
“To come here as a clean slate with freshmen, and they were all hired as varsity head coaches — so they will have this group of kids for years before they eventually get to varsity — that, to me, was the main draw.”
Boys basketball coach Keith Epps just guided Santa Paula to its first section final. Girls flag football coach Lui Toilolo is the former head football coach