2013-02-08 / Sports

Going wild for Willard

Longtime Camarillo softball skipper tackles football program
By Gilberto Manzano

HAPPY JACK—Jack Willard is the new head coach for the Camarillo High varsity football team. Willard, 55, also guides ACHS softball. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers HAPPY JACK—Jack Willard is the new head coach for the Camarillo High varsity football team. Willard, 55, also guides ACHS softball. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Jack Willard traveled back and forth from Camarillo to Provo, Utah, the past four springs.

Willard coached the Camarillo High softball team, and whenever he had time, he watched his daughter, Delaney, roam the outfield for Brigham Young University.

“I wouldn’t have been able to leave without the great coaching staff I have,” said Willard, who has coached Scorpion softball for 11 years. “They have been very supportive.”

The longtime softball skipper will continue to be in and out this season—but instead of heading to the Beehive State, he’ll be instructing youngsters in the ACHS weight room.

Willard, 55, is the new head coach for Camarillo football. The former Scorpion quarterback takes over for Dennis Riedmiller, who stepped down after 10 seasons at the helm.

“Nichole Pinedo and my (softball) assistants have to cover for me again, just in a different matter,” Willard said. “They understand that I have a passion for football and this is something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’m committed to the softball team, but I’ll also be in the weight room and coaching spring ball with the football team.”

Willard graduated from Camarillo High in 1976. He’s previously been a head coach for the ACHS baseball and girls’ basketball teams.

After spending nine seasons on the Newbury Park football coaching staff, Willard returned in the fall to Camarillo for a third stint.

The Scorpions, with Willard as defensive coordinator, won their fourth straight Pacific View League championship. The defense made drastic improvements under Willard.

Camarillo won seven games in 2012 by holding opponents to 14 points or less.

“We’re very fortunate because he’s been with the program for the last year,” ACHS Athletic Director Mary Perez said about Willard. “It doesn’t seem like a long time, but he really fit into what Camarillo football’s all about. He has a plan in mind.

“We have a great foundation. He just needs to build from there. We’re looking forward to continuing an excellent tradition. Jack’s the person that will do a great job for us.”

There won’t be much change for the Scorpions. Tony Pinedo will continue to coach the offense, just like he did for majority of Riedmiller’s tenure.

“I love what Tony does on offense,” Willard said. “I’ve always been impressed with his coaching, his attention to detail and being able to get his message across to kids.

“He’s a guy I really want to hang on to and be part of this. He’s the key to the whole thing. He was the first guy I talked to.”

Willard received his first high school football coaching gig in 1982 from John Reardon, a Rio Mesa legend. Willard was also hired as an English teacher at Rio Mesa.

The Scorpion coach became close with Reardon after Willard coached Reardon’s son Barry on the Roadrunners youth football team.

Willard stayed with the Spartans for one season.

He spent the next four years (1983-87) teaching and coaching at Newbury Park.

Former Camarillo football coach Carl Thompson asked Willard to be his defensive coordinator in the fall of 1987. Willard’s first stint with the Scorpions lasted almost a decade.

“When Carl asked me to lead the defense, I said yes, but I had no clue to coaching defense,” Willard said.

“I immediately called Gil Mendoza, who was the defensive coordinator for Moorpark College at the time, for help. He’s been a great influence for me. He’s a great coach.”

Mendoza has coached with Willard the past 20 seasons. He was in charge of the Scorpion defensive line this fall.

Willard received his first football head coaching position at Channel Islands. He helped Channel Islands earn playoff berths in two out of his three years there before going back to Camarillo.

Riedmiller was on Willard’s coaching staff at Channel Islands.

“X’s and O’s, there’s no one better than Jack,” Riedmiller said. “I’ve worked with Jack for many years. We were assistants together at Camarillo in the ’90s, and I went with him to Channel Islands. Channel Islands didn’t have the best talent, but Jack made his team work hard.

“He’ll do the same with Camarillo. I’m sure the kids love the hire. They all know Jack and respect him as a coach.”

Willard’s daughter Delaney was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association First-Team All- American for BYU last season. She was second in the nation with 83 RBI.

Willard’s other two daughters, Hallie and Payton, both play volleyball. Hallie and Delaney are Camarillo graduates.

Payton will be a freshman Scorpion in the fall.

Jack Willard’s married to Tina Willard.

Jack Willard played shortstop for baseball teams at Moorpark College and Cal Lutheran University.

He applied for the Camarillo head coaching gig when Charlie Festerling left the team after the 2002 season. He didn’t get it.

“I’ve always wanted to be the head coach of the Camarillo football team,” Willard said. “I applied once and it wasn’t meant to be then.

“I’m going to make the best of my opportunity now.”

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