Published on Feb. 26 2020
The Big Switch
Former AHS coach transitions to coaching the Oakland Panthers.
By Che Muñoz
After 28 memorable years of coaching high school football, a life long goal has been achieved by former AHS varsity coach Kurt Bryan. This coming spring, Bryan will take up the position as the new head coach of the newest addition to the indoor football league, The Oakland Panthers.
Kurt Bryan was the head coach of Arroyo’s football team for the 2017 and 18 seasons. Bryan also spent some of his years at Piedmont high school. Bryan is well known in the football community for co-creating the A-11 offense. This offense is well known in most levels of amateur football. Bryan used this offense in his two years at Arroyo. Within Bryan’s 28 year career, Bryan believed in one main thing that every player, no matter who they are, is valued.
“In my 11 years prior to this job as a head coach, so three previous stops, two at Piedmont and one at Arroyo, that is being able to make sure you find a place for every player on the team. That is why we played every player in every game.”
As of the 2019 season, he has left the position as head coach of the Arroyo Dons football team. Mikal Dace, Bryan’s assistant coach at the time, would go on to fill his position. Bryan had informed his players that he was offered a job that he could not refuse. In order to take this job, he would have to give up his position as head coach.
“As things moved forward and I got offered the job, my concern was two fold” Bryan said, “My concern number one was obviously taking care of myself and my family and then number two, Arroyo. Even though I didn’t have a signed contract yet, I had to figure out a way to navigate through the process where, I could step away from Arroyo after everything was set up for 2019... So I stepped away from Arroyo two months before I signed my contract. So I could’ve been out on both ends, but I had faith in it.”
Bryan’s leave was very impactful to the team. Not only to his former players, but to his former coaching staff as well. Mikal Dace, former JV head coach of the Dons football team was given the job of head coach when Bryan announced his leave. Dace described feeling an abundance of emotions when given news of Bryan’s new job offer.
“It was like a life flash before your eyes kind of moment. You think of the players who have left, you think of the players that are still here, and how to make the transition as easy and seamless for them as possible. I was left in a good position, we had our off-season coach meetings, we had a chance to decide on a play book, we had a chance to do some hiring, get coaches hired and put in place, so I had a pretty good situation”
During Bryan’s time at Arroyo, he saw two classes of seniors graduate from the football program.
When asked about Bryan’s every player plays policy, Arroyo graduate and former varsity football player Erick Olguin gave his take, “I think he really stuck to that... The other day I went to a football game for my little cousin... My cousin never touched the field. It sucks, you at least want to get in the game. So I appreciate that he (Bryan) put everyone in the game.”
After 28 years of coaching high school football, he was finally ready to move on.
“I always wanted to be a pro football coach if it was right for my family.” Bryan said, “Back in 07, 08 and 09, kind of the A-11 era, I had a lot of neat opportunities presented to yours truly, but they weren’t the right fit or I would’ve had to move my family and I didn’t want to do that. When this came calling, it was too good to pass up.”
Bryan and his team know that soon, they will be one of the only teams left in the Oakland area. Bryan plans to use this opportunity to impact the communities he’s been a part of on his 28 year coaching journey.
“With the Raiders leaving and the Warriors moving across the Bay, there is a big void, and there are lots of high schools and youth programs that would love to have a player or coach come to their fundraiser, speak at a banquet, talk to the team or the school. What we’ve done is, my coaching staff, and the quality control interns, they’ve all been assigned target team markets. Each coach has somewhere between 10 to 20 high schools where they are in the process of introducing themselves, and starting to engage with their team market in the community and so we feel that over the next six months to a year, they’re gonna know us very well, and we’re [going to] help them as much as they can. And Arroyo is one of mine.” •
Kurt Bryan during the 2018 fall season, coaching up his team during an offensive period. Bryan made sure that his players had a deep understanding of the plays they ran.