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New Football Coaches Looking to Rebuild Brea Olinda, Katella Programs

New Football Coaches Looking to Rebuild Brea Olinda, Katella Programs

New Brea Olinda football coach Justin Villasenor speaks with members of the team. (Courtesy of Justin Villasenor)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

12/7/2023

Updated: 12/21/2023

Two Orange County, California high schools hoping to resuscitate struggling football programs have turned to new coaches.
Brea Olinda tabbed former assistant Justin Villasenor to replace Jae Kim, who resigned after two seasons. Katella, meanwhile, named former assistant Dustin Hurley to succeed Jeff Reitz, who stepped down after one season.
Mr. Villasenor, who attended and played football at nearby La Mirada High, has been involved in the Brea football community for 20 years, first as a Pop Warner coach and for the past 15 years in multiple capacities at the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity levels at the high school.
“So, yeah, even though I’m born and raised in La Mirada, I consider myself a Brea guy now,” Mr. Villasenor told The Epoch Times. “It’s been a long-time dream. I wanted to make sure I stayed in Brea, and this came at the perfect time.”
The Wildcats have had a rough go the past two seasons since being moved to the Crestview League. They were a combined 0–6 in league play while competing against well-established programs in Foothill, Villa Park, and Yorba Linda.
Brea Olinda finished 5–6 overall this season, dropping a 37–6 decision to Elsinore of Wildomar in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 10 playoffs, after having gone 3–7 in 2022. Prior to that, as members of the North Hills League, the Wildcats had strung together four consecutive winning seasons and advanced to the Southern Section Division 9 championship game in 2018.
The impending restructuring of Orange County Leagues in 2024 figures to help Brea Olinda. The Wildcats expect to be placed in a grouping that will better enable them to be competitive.
“We held our own with the North Hills League, and we hold our own with the D-7, D-8, and D-9 teams, but playing the D-2, D-3, and D-4 schools, we’re just not at that level,” Brea Olinda athletic director Mike Knaus told The Epoch Times.
New Brea Olinda football coach Justin Villasenor (C) speaks with members of the team. (Courtesy of Justin Villasenor)

New Brea Olinda football coach Justin Villasenor (C) speaks with members of the team. (Courtesy of Justin Villasenor)

In addition to improving the Wildcats’ offseason strength and conditioning program and building a culture that features full commitment to the program, Mr. Villasenor’s goals include creating a strong presence in the community. The idea is to motivate younger prospective players to attend Brea Olinda rather than perhaps transferring elsewhere.
“I think if we do all those little things right, that’s just going to bleed into the season and hopefully we’ll be successful there,” he said.
As head of the school’s special-education program while also pursuing a master’s degree, and with three children of his own, Mr. Villasenor figures to be an extremely busy man.
“He deals with parents really well, and he deals with kids really well,” Mr. Knaus said. “Obviously, he’s a first-time coach as far as leading a high school program. He’s going to learn on the job, but he has a lot of positives going for him. I already see good things happening.”
The situation is very similar at Katella, where the Knights are coming off back-to-back losing seasons, including a 1–9 campaign and an 0–3 Big 4 League mark this year.
Being on campus as a special-education teacher, Mr. Hurley will have a significant advantage over his predecessor.
“Coach Reitz was a walk-on coach,” Katella athletic director Juan Viramontes told The Epoch Times. “It was just a hard situation for him to try to maintain. We were asking a lot of him. Dustin Hurley, being on staff and with the experience he has, we felt he was ready to be the head coach and make it a long-term commitment.”
Katella High School football coach Dustin Hurley (R). (Courtesy of Dustin Hurley)

Katella High School football coach Dustin Hurley (R). (Courtesy of Dustin Hurley)

A 2002 Katella graduate who was an offensive lineman for the Knights, Mr. Hurley’s coaching resume includes stints at various levels at Katella, El Dorado, and Orange Lutheran.
“This has kind of always been like a dream for me, to give back to the community and the kids,” he told The Epoch Times. “The big thing for me is we have to get the kids to buy into the program, buy into building and changing the culture of the program.”
As recently as 2019, the Knights enjoyed a fifth consecutive season with at least 11 victories. Included in that run was a 14–2 mark in 2017, when Katella advanced to the Southern Section Division 5-A championship game.
“I’m bringing in a lot of alumni on the coaching staff,” Mr. Hurley said. “We’ve all been at Katella and understand the Katella legacy, and what it’s going to take to get us back to being that type of program. We’ve had some really good coaches, but we have been really inconsistent with our coaching staff the last couple of years. I’m hoping to bring some consistency in the program and with the kids.”
Such continuity figures to only help Mr. Hurley.
“He’s a great guy,” Mr. Viramontes said. “He’s very excited, very emotional, being a former player and now taking the reins. I’m proud of him. I’m one of his former coaches. He knows where the program has been and wants to take it back to that level.”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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