by Scott Veliz
Oñate High School Head Football Coach
I heard them all over the last year and a half — “Everything happens for a reason,” “God has a plan,” “Your time will come,” friends and family kept saying things like this, but I could not reconcile the fact that I could not land a head job. Was I too old at 45 to land anything? Am I too fiery and do I coach too hard? It all ran through my mind. In a 16-month span, I was a finalist at four El Paso (TX) high schools, but I couldn’t cross the finish line. Then in May of this year it happened.
My name is Scott Veliz, and I am the new head football coach at Oñate High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Things really do happen for a reason. I am truly honored and blessed to be able to lead such great kids in such a great community. And I am doubly blessed to be able to write a blog for such a well-respected online site, like High School Football America. I cannot thank Jeff Fisher enough for giving me the platform to promote our program on a weekly basis. I also would like to thank Jason Strunk as well. Even though we have never met, I’ve read his blog The Turnaround many times and it inspired me to begin my own. I truly hope you enjoy reading this every week as much as I am going to enjoy writing it.
I have been coaching high school football on-and-off since 1992. Fourteen years of experience to be exact. I made stops at Riverside High School (El Paso, Tx) from 1992-1997 as a lower level coach; Hanks High School (El Paso, Tx) from 1998-2000 as a varsity assistant; Eastwood High School (El Paso, Tx) from 2012-2014 as an offensive coordinator; El Dorado High School (El Paso, Tx) in 2015 also as an offensive coordinator; and last year at Lee High School (Midland, Tx) as a varsity assistant.
You probably noticed a 12-year gap in there. My wife was pregnant with our first boy, Justin in 2000 and I made the decision to get out of coaching for a while and spend time with my son and her. It was a good decision because 15 months later, my second son Brandon was born. I spent the next 10 plus years working in the mortgage business and coaching my sons in youth select baseball, but the gridiron kept calling.
Coaching football is a passion and a love that is near impossible to shake. I know it sounds cliché, but I really feel like the luckiest guy on planet, because every day I get to coach high school football. Even luckier still because I get to coach my two boys, Justin and Brandon, who are 17 and 16 now. What more can a man ask for? Behind it all is my beautiful, wonderful, wife Belinda. She is the glue that keeps our family together and the real reason for all the success in my life. I would be nothing without her.
A NEW ERA
I am a lifelong Texan now living, teaching, and coaching in New Mexico. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen, but it did and I could not be happier. I am taking over a school that has not has a ton of success over the 25 plus years that it has been open.
“We are always treated like second class citizens or the step children in this town,” many parents and supporters told me when I arrived in town. The team made the second round of the playoffs last year and finished 7-5. A very good year by Oñate standards. They also won a state title in 2002 at the 3A level. We are now considered 6A. We have just under 1,600 students in our school, so if we were in Texas, which is a mere 30 minutes away, we would be a 5A school.
In the town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Las Cruces High and Mayfield High have always been the two schools that garner the most attention, and rightfully so. The two of them have combined to win over 10 state titles…maybe more. I really do not care to check exactly how many. All I care about right now is getting my program, the Oñate Knights, to an elite level in New Mexico.
I have a lot of respect for those two schools and the other school in town, Centennial, but I do not dwell on them. I do not obsess over them. I stay focused on our journey. I stay focused on our mission. I do not care that my first day on the job was June 12. My goals are still the same. Anything short of massive success will be a disappointment.
Our team mantra: SWING YOUR SWORD — yes, I stole it from Mike Leach, but what better way to say, “we’re going to take our shot and not take crap from anyone?!” We will be a very young team this year as we will start maybe five seniors, total.
We are totaling revamping and changing the offensive and defensive schemes. They ran a huddle, under center, triple option last year; now we are going to a fast paced, multiple, no huddle spread that we were very successful with El Paso Eastwood and El Paso El Dorado.
They ran a 4-3, Cover 0 defense last year; now we are going to a 4-2-5 defense with multiple moving and attacking fronts and varying coverages in the back end.
Our leaders and playmakers will be Aaron Sanchez (QB), Justin Veliz (C/DE), Brandon Veliz (WR/DB), Arath Ronquillo (LB), Cameron Salas (RB/S), Jayden Diaz (WR/DB), and D-1 prospect with seven offers, Monroe Young (WR/DB).
I love a challenge. I have never been inserted into a ready made situation in my life. Honestly, I would not know what to do if I was. I love building teams, changing cultures, re-branding a squad, and proving all naysayers dead wrong. Should be a fun year.
Until next time. BUY IN-SELL OUT.