Burroughs High Coach Keith Knoop likes to stay on the cutting edge
when it comes to football.
Whether it’s initiating new drills to help his players improve,
developing innovative defensive schemes or introducing challenging
training methods, Knoop is always looking for ways to keep things
fresh in the Indian program.
Recently, Knoop read about something he thought could bring a
change -- for the good -- to the leadership of the Burroughs team.
The coach then came up with a plan to implement the new idea.
“The idea that I read about had to do with the way a team named
its captains,” Knoop said.
“Although some teams let the players pick the captains, I have
never done it that way at Burroughs. Here, the coaches usually choose
who are going to be the captains.
“But what I was reading about was a different way to choose.
Instead of just naming the captains, anyone who wanted to be a team
leader had to go through an interview process.”
Knoop said he has never allowed his players to name their captains
for very good reasons.
“A lot of times when you leave it up to the players, they’re going
to pick whoever are the best athletes, or the most popular players,
to be captains,” he said. “But there are players out there who may
not be the most talented or the most popular, but who could possess
very good leadership qualities.”
With his plan in place, prospective Indian captains met two weeks
ago to go through an interview process.
Before players could even apply for a captain position, they
needed to meet certain criteria. The qualifications included:
* Grade-point average of 2.5 or higher.
* Has to be an incoming senior.
* Has to have three seasons of Burroughs football experience.
* Desire to do the job.
* No criminal arrests or convictions.
* Good standing in the community.
* Good time-management skills.
“Although we wanted the players to have all the criteria, there
was one player who had a little problem in his past and didn’t fit
one of the qualifications,” Knoop said. “But I encouraged him still
apply to be a captain.
“I told the player that in life, you might be up for a job and you
might not meet every single qualification. But you have to give it a
try because you never know what will happen. You could end up getting
Each applicant was required to show up for his interview in a suit
and tie and had to provide a resume highlighting his strengths and
“The interviews were very business-like,” Knoop said. “Everything
was taken seriously and the guys were very focused on what they had
to do to become a captain.”
The interested players went before a panel that included Knoop,
two first-year varsity players and a Burroughs Arrowhead Booster Club
From an initial group of 14 who applied to be captains, the field
was whittled down to six finalists.
Knoop enlisted the help of Abbie Britton -- a Burroughs booster
with a son in the program -- to come up with some challenging
interview questions for the captain candidates.
The questions challenged the players and required them come up
with answers to tough situations and scenarios.
One of the questions was: “A key [teammate] is under extreme
stress and you need him to focus. What would you do?”
Candidate Fernel Vasquez, a left tackle, responded: “I’d remind
him that football is fun, that we are lucky to have this journey
together. I’d put the moment in perspective.”
Another question was: “If one of your teammates is falling apart
off the field and it was beginning to show in the game, would you rat
Running back/defensive back Evan Gomez had a quick response to the
“It’s not about ratting out anyone,” he said. “It’s about helping
someone who is a member of the football family.
“I would like to be the kind of leader who is able to see a kid in
trouble and help before they reach the breaking point.”
Not only did some of the players look the part of someone applying
for an important position, but some brought special touches to their
Left guard Esteban Pereanez carried a detailed portfolio, complete
with his athletic and scholastic accomplishments.
Another player, linebacker/center Gagik Abrahamian -- who has a
4.2 grade point average -- impressed the panel with his views about a
player’s obligation to maintain high academic standards.
Some of the players’ presentations and dedication to the process
even surprised Knoop.
“I’ll tell you what,” Knoop said. “Someone like Gagik was so
impressive, his interview could have gotten him a job at a Bill Gates
company. He was that good.
“I think the whole process turned out great. We were really able
to see these players’ abilities as leaders and what they can bring to
“I think all the captains we ended up picking will be very good
team leaders for us.”
The captains are: Vasquez, Pereanez, Abrahamian,
linebacker/fullback Alex Phillips and safety Matt Patterson.
Abbie Britton contributed to this column.
* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be
reached at 843-8700, or by e-mail at email@example.com.