Success on the gridiron has been hard to come by for Gridley High School in recent years.
The Bulldogs have not had a winning season since 2006 and are 25-78 since 2007.
But the Bulldogs’ newest coach is planning to change that.
Matt Kemmis, who will also serve as a special education teacher, started work in March. He comes to Gridley from a private school, Rancho Christian, in Temecula, in Southern California near San Diego.
Kemmis takes over a program that has not seen much stability in the head coaching position: He’ll be the third coach in the past four years, taking over for Larenzo Garth, who resigned for personal reasons early last season.
Kemmis is aware of the coaching carousel Gridley has seen in recent years, and plans on sticking around awhile.
A long while, if he has anything to say about it.
“This is the kind of place I could see myself retiring,” Kemmis said after dismissing the team from a recent offseason workout. “
Kemmis heard about the Gridley opening through a friend who works in Redding.
Kemmis’s wife Kimberley is also a teacher and will be moving to Gridley later this summer. She will be on a special assignment at the district office.
“We’re happy to be here,” Kemmis said. “These are our golden years … the best 20 years of our lives.”
A graduate of California State University-Stanislaus, Kemmis has been teaching and coaching since 2001. He was an accomplished football player in high school, on both the offensive and defensive lines. He did not play football in college.
Interestingly enough, Kemmis has a degree in philosophy.
“Do you know what you do with a degree in philosophy?” Kemmis asked with a laugh. “You have deep thoughts about being unemployed.”
Kemmis comes from a family of teachers, so the decision to get into education wasn’t a difficult one.
At Gridley, Kemmis will be fortunate to have the services of most of last year’s staff, including Nick Dreesmann, who filled in on an interim basis after Garth’s resignation.
His staff will also include a name very familiar to area prep football fans: Ron Carr, the former Biggs head coach who spent last season on the staff at Live Oak.
Kemmis expects to still coach the offensive line at Gridley.
The Bulldogs are in the midst of a few weeks of spring practice – a toned-down affair with no contact.
Kemmis said the spring schedule will help to install the offense and defense.
As far as offense goes, Kemmis said he will want to run the football first, out of the pistol formation.
“I’m an o-line guy, so I want to run the football,” Kemmis said.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will run an odd stack, with different formations to confuse offenses. An aggressive, attacking defense will characterize Gridley football going forward under Kemmis.
“We want to force the issue and be aggressive, instead of just reading and reacting,” Kemmis said.
A summer workout regimen will include the weight room and summer 7-on-7 passing league.
Gridley opens the 2017 season Friday night, Sept. 1 at Willows. Since their schedule skips the Week Zero games set for Friday, Aug. 25, they won’t have a bye in 2017.
The Bulldogs travel to Anderson Sept. 8 before meeting Live Oak in the annual Harvest Bowl game Sept. 15 at the Boneyard.