Mar Vista’s new soccer coach brings with him years of experience in youth soccer

If enthusiasm and 20 years of coaching youth football translates into wins, Mar Vista High should have a hugely successful 2022 season.

New head coach David Moore – Coach Mo for those who know him – was hired in early March and nothing he’s seen since has dampened his spirits. If anything, he’s even more excited about the Mariners’ prospects after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator last year.

“One of the things I’ve learned every year coaching youth football with new players is that you have to adapt,” Moore, 45, said unprepared.

“I learned a few of those lessons firsthand last year.”

The Mariners were 5-4 and going into the Division IV playoffs with high hopes. But when report cards came out, 11 of the 26 varsity players had no grades.

“I learned a great lesson,” he said. “Suddenly we needed a lot of Ironman players, with linebackers playing guard and tackle. We scored early but then the players got tired and before you knew it they had 50 points.”

The 50-18 setback against Rancho Buena Vista, the Mariners’ first trip to the playoffs since 2018, is obviously still on his mind.

“One of the first things I did as a head coach was get progress reports on every player,” he said. “While a 2.0 is all you need to be eligible, I made it clear to players that there really is no reason not to have a 2.5 or better. I don’t want that to happen again.”

What opponents won’t get is a program that isn’t customizable, despite the return of one of the section’s best quarterbacks, Aleksandr Wojcik.

Moore has an entire library at home offering virtually every attack and defense made up, and he has read all of the books. Another thing he changed was his assistant roster, which more than doubled from six last year, including new Eastlake offensive line coach Joey Fejaran.

Though the school has its fourth head coach in four years, he plans to be around for a while.

“I’m totally into it,” said coach Mo. “I dreamed about it when I coached youth football. I’m used to doing more with less and that’s a blessing. I have many assistants who have a say and I listen. It’s like hanging a picture and they let me know if it’s crooked.

“This is a very special situation. Imperial Beach is a great city and first I contacted the Mayor, Serge Dedina, and then Councilman Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez and we started a careers fair. We had between 20 and 30 trades and the gym was packed. It’s really important what you do after high school and I think we saved lives.”

In senior Wojcik, Moore has a rare nugget in a key position.

The 6-foot-195-pounder completed 57.7 percent of his passes (173 of 300) for 2,860 yards with 26 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He also rushed for 205 yards in a team that rushed less than 400 yards overall.

So you’re assuming the Mariners will continue the airstrike as several veteran receivers are also returning.

“No, we take what the other team gives us,” Moore said. “Alek is like a big fullback and it’s difficult for linebackers to bring him down. If they charge for the pass and let us run, we run. If they adapt, we adapt.

“This is a senior-heavy team (15 seniors are returning) and these parents went in and stood up for me when there was a head coaching position. We immediately opened the weight room and I believe we can be very competitive since we went from the bottom of Division IV to the top of Division V.”

Steve Brand is a freelance writer.

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