When Joel Schaeffer arrived at his office Monday, there were 15 phone messages waiting for him instead of the usual one or two.

Welcome to championship game week at Reseda High.

“It was beyond belief,” Schaeffer said.

Almost as hard to believe is the coaching arrangement at Reseda, where Schaeffer and his trusty sidekick, assistant Mike Stone, have coached the football team by themselves for 18 seasons.

In an age of specialization, Schaeffer, 53, and Stone, 51, represent a simpler, do-it-yourself era. They’re throwbacks, and proud of it.


“Some of these guys with larger staffs don’t get near as much done as I do with two people,” Schaeffer said. “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”

It’s hard to argue with Schaeffer’s recipe for success. Since taking over the Reseda program in 1978, his teams are 123-64-5 with appearances in the City Section 2-A Division finals in 1986 and 1987, winning the title in ’86.

Tonight he will guide the Regents (10-3) against Eagle Rock (11-2) in the 3-A Division final at Birmingham High. Kickoff is at 7:30.

At his side will be Stone, who plays Tonto to Schaeffer’s Lone Ranger. They work together on all phases of the game, sharing responsibilities on offense and defense. Combined, they have 57 years of coaching experience.

Stone says the arrangement works because of the intuitive nature of their relationship, which has lasted nearly as long as Schaeffer’s 31-year marriage to his wife Nancy.

“We’ve interacted so much through the years, I know what he’s thinking about and he knows what I’m thinking about,” said Stone, who also coaches the Reseda baseball team. “In games, it really comes out.”


But there’s no doubt who’s the boss. Schaeffer has the final word.

“In our type of situation, he’s the chief and I’m the Indian,” Stone said. “There’s no gray area and no arguments. I get to contribute.”

Schaeffer has earned a reputation over the years as a stubborn, take-charge coach who favors conservative game plans. His teams are usually run-oriented, but he defended himself against charges that he lacks creativity.

Schaeffer’s recent change of appearance (he has lost 50 pounds since January) is proof that he can’t be typecast.

“I can get as wild and woolly as the next guy offensively,” he said. “I don’t think I’m archaic with the things that I do. We have passed for over 100 yards in a couple of games this year, and we passed for 200 yards [in the playoff opener] against Roosevelt.”

He displayed a split personality with his play calling last week in Reseda’s 24-0 semifinal victory over Monroe. On the wild side, he attempted two “fumblerooski” trick plays and a pass off a reverse. On the conservative end, the Regents ran eight dives up the middle on a touchdown drive.

Either way, Reseda’s players seem to be enjoying themselves.

Junior quarterback Jamaal Washington has nothing but praise for the work of Schaeffer and Stone.


“They got us to the championship [game], so they’ve got to be good,” Washington said. “They get the job done and keep things under control for it being just two coaches.”

Michael Martin, a junior who plays receiver and linebacker, says he was skeptical of the two-coach system because he was accustomed to working with larger staffs at Cleveland, his previous school.

“I didn’t think two would be enough,” Martin said. “At Cleveland we had a line coach, a special teams coach, all of that. But here, two coaches for everything, it’s fine. Everything is under control.”

So how do two coaches keep 40 players in line?

“It’s not difficult at all,” Schaeffer said. “The most important thing is to get practices as organized as possible and get everybody involved. I’m a great believer in getting players involved with terminology and other [coaching] techniques.”

The formula has worked, especially lately. Reseda has won four consecutive games and outscored opponents, 109-28, since losing to Monroe, 34-21, on Nov. 3, a defeat the Regents avenged last week.

Monroe Coach Fred Cuccia credited Schaeffer with getting Reseda ready for the rematch.

“His teams are always prepared to play,” Cuccia said. “They reflect Joel’s mentality. He’s a very tough individual. You always know you’re going to be in a battle against Reseda.”


Cuccia, who heads a three-man staff at Monroe, said Schaeffer and Stone have been successful because of their expertise and experience.

“You can have 15 coaches on the sideline, but what the hell do they coach?” Cuccia said. “It’s not the amount of coaches you have on the staff, it’s if the kids believe in what you are saying. The kids at Reseda believe in what Schaeffer is saying.”

Rudy Lugo, longtime Canoga Park coach, said he acquired a greater respect for Schaeffer after teaching summer school at Reseda a few years ago and becoming familiar with the school’s administrators, teachers and students.

“They had all kinds of praise for Joel, not only for his football knowledge and excellent coaching skills, but his colleagues felt he was a real educator,” Lugo said. “He’s dedicated to the young guys not only learning football, but being contributing people in the community.”

Schaeffer has been a part of the community for a long time.

A Valley native, Schaeffer played football at Cleveland High, Pierce College and Cal State Northridge, where he was a two-way starter at center and linebacker from 1962-64.

One of Schaeffer’s first coaching jobs was as defensive coordinator at Crespi from 1967-69. The head coach was John Becker, now head scout with the St. Louis Rams, and the frosh-soph coach was former Canyon High Coach Harry Welch.


Schaeffer moved to Reseda in 1970, working as an assistant under Roy Jae for eight seasons before becoming coach. That same year, 1978, Stone came to Reseda from Gardena, where he had been an assistant and helped the Mohicans win the City Section title in 1972.

Stone says coaching on a larger staff at Gardena made him appreciate the two-man system at Reseda.

“[At Gardena] you were very limited to what you could do as a coach,” Stone said. “You just kind of stood around. With us, we get to interact with the kids continuously. That makes it more enjoyable for us, more for us to do to keep things moving along.

“I don’t know if I would have stayed coaching as long as I have if I had been in a [larger] coaching situation. You get to know the kids on a much more personal basis.”

Heading into tonight’s championship game, Schaeffer says he will stick with the basics that have gotten Reseda this far.

“You always put a couple of wrinkles in, but you don’t want to overdo it because I think you send a mixed message to your kids that maybe what you’ve been doing all along isn’t good enough,” Schaeffer said. “I just hope we have the intensity that we had last week. If we play like that, we’ll have no problems at all.”


Schaeffer is less certain about his coaching future.

“As long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll stay here,” he said. “When I don’t have the passion for it, I’ll figure something else to do.

“The trouble will be figuring something else to do at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.”