Jude Binkley staff writer
It’s hard to believe that just over a decade ago, our football team was a powerhouse. Our school has won 12 state championships and produced multiple pro players, most recently Spencer Paysinger, who won a ring with the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. But over the course of a few years, our football program has rapidly declined, repeatedly finishing at the bottom of Ocean League with several winless seasons.
Beverly football died when the district ended the opportunity permit program in 2010. The now-extinct program allowed students from outside the district to attend BHUSD schools. Though, when the district declined state aid and moved to a basic aid system that funded the district from property taxes, the athletic program blew up entirely, as many of the permit students were star athletes.
Beverly may be a smaller school district compared to our rivals, but that doesn’t automatically mean our sports teams will do poorly. Just this year we had three Ocean League champion teams in boy’s basketball, girl’s soccer and wrestling. If one person knows about creating success from a small program, it’s football coach Jarrod Bunch, who played football for a school in Ashtabula, Ohio. His former high school was half the size of Beverly, yet was still able to find success. After his high school career, Bunch played ball at the University of Michigan before being a first-round draft pick for the Giants. Bunch’s background coming from a small school gives him an unparalleled experience that he has been able to bring to Beverly, coaching our team to their first victories in two years.
While the district has taken great steps to bring in the right coaching, the biggest hindrance to our football program is that there hasn’t been any program to give players experience before high school. Basketball is easily the most popular and successful sport we have on campus. As an example, the city has BHBL, a program that gets players as young as Pre-K involved in organized play. This has helped create a strong culture and love for basketball at Beverly and has heavily contributed to the steady stream of great players our team has had. Thankfulfully for the future of football at Beverly, reconfiguration is brining a flag football program to the middle school next year. There have already been over 100 students who expressed interest in the program, which is great news for Bunch as he and the rest of Beverly can expect more developed players coming in as freshman over the next few years.
Senior football co-captain Max Vasquez knows how to succeed in athletics, as he has been a part of this year’s historic wrestling team. Vasquez can see potential in the team, especially the young core of underclassmen that will be continuing to develop under Bunch’s coaching.
“It is possible to succeed in any environment,” Vasquez said. “We have a young core that has limitless potential and the ability to be great. I think we need to get more players on the team and everyone committed to be doing something that has never been done before.”
Looking to the future of our football program, it’s easy to see reasons to be optimistic. With new coaching and a new middle school program, it is possible that we will see a resurgence in the program and (maybe) start bringing back the success that has been absent for nearly two decades.