Things Go From Bad to Worse for Mohr : Canyon High: After 0-3 start, some players challenge first-year coach's authority and four quit.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After seven players failed to appear Monday at a team meeting and four of them quit, Canyon High football Coach Larry Mohr said his team is testing his authority and needs more discipline.

"I think they don't have a whole lot of respect for me," Mohr said. "So I decided Friday I'm going to tighten the reins. Maybe some of them got scared off."

Mohr, the young, excitable successor to Harry Welch whose team is 0-3 in his first season as a head coach, said he has enforced rules inconsistently. Sometimes, he failed to make players run laps after ordering them to do so. Now, he said, they will run.

Junior defensive back David Gonzalez, a starting strong safety, and three Cowboys who had not played a down this season--receivers Carlos Mejia and Micaele Williams and quarterback Jess Cova--quit on Monday.

Cova was ineligible the first three games. Another backup player, safety Scott Higgenbothem, quit on Monday but rejoined the team Tuesday.

Starting linebacker Nathan Blade and starting tight end Rob Varnon were back in uniform Tuesday after missing Monday's meeting without contacting coaches. Mohr was later told that Blade was ill and Varnon had a family crisis.

Mohr said some of his players also skipped a meeting before Friday night's 28-13 loss to Crespi. It's time to enforce discipline, he said.

"We're tightening things up," he said.

Mohr, 35, a Canyon assistant last season, said players have had trouble adjusting to his style. Mohr, a rugged halfback and defensive back at Thousand Oaks High during his playing days, said the Cowboys might be taken aback when he yells and stomps on the sidelines.

"Maybe they thought that was a sign of weakness," he said. "But I think the kids are starting to understand (my approach). Initially, when a new coach takes over, they don't know how to react.

"I think I'll be tested (by the players) for a long time. I'm not worried about how we do Friday night as much as I am about the future (of this program)."

Blade, a 6-foot-3, 186-pound senior, said he and his teammates are discouraged by Canyon's 0-3 start, but they harbor no ill will toward Mohr.

"His personality is fine with me," Blade said. "The coaches are doing their best. It's just hard walking off the field after a loss. The people you face at school don't know how hard we work.

"(Monday) I was considering quitting. But I've gone this far. Why stop now?"

Mohr also brought up two sophomores Monday. Defensive end Mike Kowalczyk (6-0, 170) and guard Brian Arnold (6-2, 280) will start against Alemany on Friday.

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