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LOS ANGELES TIMES 1994 : ALL-Ventura / County Football Team : Coach of the Year : Farrar Built Team for the ‘90s

Cliff Farrar, who grew up in Ventura County and was a standout football player at Oxnard High in the 1960s, wanted to come home in the 1980s as a head coach.

To do so, he had to take a job at Nordhoff High, which had the worst football program of the county’s 19 schools.

That was in 1987, and after a few rough years Farrar has made the Rangers the most-successful Ventura County team of the ‘90s.

Farrar was a quarterback in high school who led Oxnard to the Channel League championship in 1965. Later, he spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at Fallbrook High, which captured a San Diego Section title in 1986.

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Farrar, 46, left Fallbrook determined to take Nordhoff to respectability and beyond.

The transition didn’t happen overnight.

Farrar’s teams struggled to a 6-24 mark his first three seasons, and the Rangers were dubbed the worst team of the ‘80s in Ventura County. They had a 10-year record of 23-101.

But in 1991, Farrar brought Nordhoff its first league championship since 1966. Now the Rangers have won Frontier League championships in three of the past four seasons, this year reaching a Southern Section title game for the first time.

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“Our kids aren’t as big as kids on a lot of teams we play, but they’ve got a lot of heart,” said Farrar, who took over in 1987. “Some of our kids are ranchers. They ride horses. They’re cowboys. They’re tough.”

In Farrar’s eight seasons, the Rangers are 47-43. But since 1990, Nordhoff is 41-19. Those 41 victories, along with 10 playoff games, are more than any other team in the county.

Farrar knows what it’s like to win. At Fallbrook, he was defensive coordinator of a team that won a section Division I championship.

At Nordhoff, he set out to build a winning attitude by keeping workouts upbeat, practicing big plays and familiarizing his players with the feeling of scoring a touchdown.

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“The kids have fun,” he said. “And we practice the little things that make football fun. When we run into the end zone for a score in practice, we’re all going to run down there and high-five each other, jump up and down, yell. . . .”

Farrar might not have been as successful without running back Josh Hawkins, The Times’ 1994 All-Ventura back of the year who gained 2,454 yards rushing and scored 36 touchdowns. He set a Nordhoff record with 4,620 rushing yards over three seasons.

But Hawkins likely would not have had as much success without Farrar.

“He says he loves us, he believes in us and that he’s 100% behind us no matter what,” Hawkins said of Farrar. “That gives you confidence, and you want to win for him.”

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