FAIRFIELD — David Fishleigh started the Rodriguez High football coaching merry-go-round – six coaches in six seasons – when he stepped down in 2008.
Fishleigh hopes to end a similar trend at Fairfield, which has seen six coaching changes since Randy Hood resigned after the 2001 season.
Fishleigh led the Mustangs to three playoff appearances, two Solano County Athletic Conference titles and one Sac-Joaquin Section championship in his three seasons at Rodriguez.
The Falcons have made the playoffs just twice (2008 and 2009) since Hood’s departure, and Fishleigh sees “changing the culture, being able to win close games (and) breaking bad habits” as some of the biggest challenges he’s facing.
So is a lack of depth and few returning players as the Falcons bring back four starters on both offense and defense.
Topping the list are quarterback Michael Arredondo, offensive/defensive lineman Marcus Blanton, running back/linebacker Eric Clark, receiver/defensive back Tyler Ross and defensive back Demetrus Spears.
Top newcomers include offensive lineman/linebacker Peyton Bailey, running back/linebacker Damonni Quinney, running back/linebacker Billy Jones and receiver/defensive back Alex Darnes.
While working on getting bigger numbers, Fishleigh likes his team’s athleticism.
“We have depth at running back and linebacker,” he said. “The team has bought into the new culture and coaching staff.”
The Falcons were 1-8 in 2012 and winless (0-5) in SCAC play for the first time since going 0-6 in 1976, the Monticello Empire League’s inaugural season.
“We will be improved from the 2012 FHS varsity team,” Fishleigh said. “I believe expectations are low, and I understand. This is a rebuilding project, but at the same time I believe this team can be successful Year 1. We have a core of players who believe what the new coaching staff is doing and are improving every day.
“We will be a work in progress all the way through the season. Our goal is to continue to improve every week and be a much better team at Week 10 then we were at Week 1.”
Their Week 1 game is at Del Campo of Fair Oaks on Sept. 6.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.