Faulkner: Emerson aims to move players

Hank Stram, a former NFL coach in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, used to describe his offense's drives as matriculating the ball down the field.

Kevin Emerson, introduced formally on Thursday as the Orange Coast College football coach, believes that matriculating the ball down the field is no more important than helping his players matriculate to four-year schools.

It was one of his points of emphasis in a brief address delivered before a group of coaches, administrators and others in the foyer of the OCC gym.

Other bullet points included:

•His desire to make OCC the leading destination for local high school football standouts.

"We want to be THE school for Orange County student-athletes," said the former head coach at San Bernardino Valley and Citrus community colleges. "I don't want an athlete ever to drive by our school to go to another school, for whatever reason."

•His desire to lure athletes with the promise of more than just football.

"We want to make sure they understand that when they do come here, there is something for them," Emerson, 44, said. "You are not coming here just to play athletics. You are going to come here, No. 1, for the next 65 years of your life … for that [associate arts] degree and for the opportunity to transfer. We want athletes who come here to graduate and move on and matriculate. It's our job as educators to matriculate our students and our athletes. My staff of coaches will do everything we can to see them get anywhere from New York to the West Coast."

•His desire to win consistently.

"We want to be successful on the football field," said Emerson, who will coach quarterbacks and coordinate a diversified no-huddle offense. "In doing so, the atmosphere will change. The buzz will change among the [high school] coaches in the area, that this is a place they want to send their guys. They are going to want to send them here to play good football, to get a good education and to matriculate."

•His desire to win immediately, despite getting a late start on recruiting for the 2014 season.

"Our goal right now is to find 25 guys who want to play right now," Emerson said. "If they are out there and they don't want to wait through 10 or 12 guys at each position, if they want to come in and compete at a national level right now … this is a place they can play right now and they will be marketed at the next level.

"Maybe [low expectations for next season exist] for the administration, but I never have lower expectations. I'm going to put that bar high and we are going to work like we're going out for a championship, every single game. Whatever happens, happens. The reality of it is, we are setting the bar to win right now. As a coach, you can't think any differently."

•Among the positives for 2014 will be sophomore left tackle Zach Bateman, an Estancia High product to whom Alabama has already made a scholarship offer, said former OCC head coach and now defensive coordinator Mike Taylor.

Taylor said former Estancia tailback Robert Murtha, who holds the all-time Newport-Mesa record with 5,489 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns, has left OCC to play at Golden West.

Taylor also said Tala Teaupa, a former All-CIF tailback at Newport Harbor High, has left OCC after encountering academic difficulties.

Both running backs played sparingly as freshmen in 2013.

•Emerson, who came to OCC to play football in the fall of 1988 out of Canyon High, but left for Santa Ana College before completing one semester, said at least one member of his family has a deeper legacy at the school. His wife Joanna graduated from OCC and went on to attend UCLA, said Emerson, who earned his bachelor's degree at Cal State Fullerton.

•The OCC men's volleyball team (19-1) will battle Santa Monica (14-6) in the state final on Friday at 7 p.m. at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.

In addition to talent, chemistry has been vital to the success of Coach Travis Turner's squad, which is seeking the program's first state crown since 1994.

"This is the best team I've ever been on," said sophomore outside hitter and co-captain Ty Hutchins. "The camaraderie is very special. This is a very special group, a very special season. Our coach put a lot of time into this and every single one of us wants [the state championship]. We stay hungry and we're ready to eat.

"I think it's [Turner]," Hutchins said of the reason for the closeness among the players. "He teaches us how to be great people. He teaches us how to get along with others and how to handle ourselves on and off the court. No matter where we come from, we're always going to have one thing in common and that's volleyball. [Turner] teaches us how to create relationships and to be really mature individuals through that common interest. I can't give him enough credit for what he's done and what he has taught me."

•Hutchins, the OCC Male Athlete of the Year, will move on to BYU next year. The Pirates are also losing standout freshman opposite Jim Webb, who plans to become a Navy SEAL.

"[Webb] has been all about the Navy SEALs since he was 15 or 16," Turner said. "He came to my office in January and said he was quitting right then to go to the Navy SEALs the next day. I said, 'Wait a minute,' and I had him talk to one of our water polo players, who had gone to the SEALs, but come back. That kid told [Webb] that the last thing he wanted to do as a SEAL was start his career by quitting something, because the one thing the SEALs are all about is team. That was a really pivotal moment for our team, because Jimmy changed his mind and decided to play this season."

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