Wichman, who started last week as the Spartans’ varsity head coach, looks forward to creating his own game plan based on the knowledge he gained from high school and college mentors — and from his role as one of Kimball High’s original coaches.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the 28-year-old said the challenge brings back memories from four years ago, when he was named defensive coordinator for what was then a brand-new Kimball High sophomore football team.
“Myself and (coach) Dave Brown really got to sit down and decide how we wanted to grow that program,” Wichman said. “We were able to get in there and really work hands-on in doing things our way, how we knew football as it was taught to us. That was really exciting.”
The 2002 West High graduate now sets out to turn around a Lathrop varsity team that is 4-35 during its first four years as a program.
Wichman hopes to jump-start the Spartans with the lessons he learned from four years on the Kimball sidelines, three of them as the sophomore team’s head coach.
He also brings his experience as a quarterback at West High for coach Steve Lopez, coach Gary Barlow at San Joaquin Delta College, and Dennis Erickson at University of Idaho.
“I’ve always kept their styles of offense within myself, and had never really had the chance to implement what I’ve learned as a player into what I am coaching,” he said. “Up to this point I’ve been coaching someone else’s offensive design. Now is a very exciting time because I can bring what I’ve learned out, and really implement those ideas.”
Wichman is confident that the Spartans, representing a school of 1,150 students, will be competitive in whatever league they’re in — Lathrop played in the Valley Oak League this year, but could end up in the Western Athletic Conference if the Sac-Joaquin Section approves tentative league realignment plans for 2014.
The new coach met players last week and will put them to work starting at 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4, in Lathrop High’s weight room.
“I just took roster signups and we had about 45 players on the varsity,” he said. “We’ve definitely got some enthusiastic young men over there who are interested in playing football.”
The former assistant football and basketball coach at Tracy High will bring most of his coaching staff from Kimball High with him.
That includes his original mentor, his father, Rob Wichman, who will be the offensive line coach. His uncle John Morris will be defensive coordinator.
Also moving to Lathrop from Kimball are Vada Franklin, who will be sophomore head coach, and Fred Juarez, sophomore offensive and defensive line coach.
Kimball High athletic director Steve Thornton, who is the former athletic director at West High, accepted Wichman’s resignation last week with mixed feelings, saying he was sad to lose one of the school’s original coaches.
“It’s a good move for him,” Thornton said. “He has a chance to take a young program and build on it.”
Wichman, who is a special-education teacher and boys basketball coach at Venture Academy in Stockton, said his new opportunity is a chance to do for others what his own coaches did for him.
“We’re all in the business of making the most positive influence on our young generations’ lives, so we can continue to build and strengthen our communities,” he said. “It’s very valuable what coaches are able to provide, on more than just a sport level.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.