ALHAMBRA - 10/13/2010 - Underneath the Friday night lights there is a chaos that erupts on the gridiron where players go down, touchdowns are scored and plays are made. But the person that keeps everything in order is the head coach and the best are usually the calmest ones on the field.
The Alhambra Moors football team has a coach who has been a part of football for the past 36 years. Coach Lou Torres has seen just about everything in that tenure so nothing can surprise him and he feels that is why he can stay calm through anything on the field.
"My experience in 36 years of coaching and my natural demeanor and my mentors, the people I worked with offensively in the past who I've learned from has helped me stay in control on the offensive side of the ball and that combination gave me the personality I have on the field now," Torres said.
His story started off without a football when he worked in the warehouse at the Sears store in downtown Los Angeles making minimum wage and he believed that was his calling before he ran into a person who would change that.
"I was working at the Sears downtown and that was where a lot of the economy was coming from and I thought I would do that for a living until I ran into Gil Ruedaflores going to lunch and he looked at me like, you can't lift boxes all your life and he brought me into coaching for the freshman team at Salesian High and I've been coaching since," Torres said.
He then moved from Salesian High to Glendale Community College and coached there from 1984 to 1988 and after that stint he moved to Alhambra High to continue his coaching with Ruedaflores.
Ruedaflores and Torres have been together for more than 22 years at Alhambra and just until Ruedaflores retired last year, everyone assumed that Torres would take over the reign, except Torres himself.
"As athletic director I was in discussion in taking over since last season and it was tough because I have grandchildren and a grandkid who I have yet to see play a baseball game," Torres said. "But, I have never been a head coach before and I looked at it as a challenge."
He has worked with a plethora of coaches in his career, but one changed his whole style of offense that he now runs to this day.
"At first I was a USC disciple. I was all about the I-power offense and when I came to Alhambra I knew we were not going to have the power players to run that offense. So, I met the coach at Rancho High who taught me the wing-T offense and as I learned it, I started to see how difficult it is to defend it," Torres said.
His wing-T offense has been a blessing for his young players he has this season, including his sophomore quarterback Joshua Mendoza who has performed well this season, averaging 133 yards a game in it and he owes that to his coach for staying patient with him.
"He is calm on the field and if I make a mistake he does not get on me and he lets me know to stay calm and that helps me out a lot," Mendoza said.
Torres not only has kept his calm with his young quarterback in his first season, but also has had to deal with an illness that held him out of his second game of the season and an incident that occurred off the field where he had to give three of his starters a one-game suspension.
His peers have noticed the he has done everything as best as he can and has stuck to his guns no matter what the circumstances are.
"He has done a marvelous job in our success and there is so much he has done in running our program as he has had a consistent discipline with the players and been doing the same thing he preached since day one," assistant coach John Cabala said.
His treatment towards his team has been with a family atmosphere and again that is something he was taught amongst the coaches he was worked with in the past.
"You have to appreciate his past because when we started with Salesian High that was a family oriented program and the way he has looked at it is that this is a family away from home for these kids and having them to understand that and appreciate it and having respect for each other are all issues you deal with as a family," Cabala said.
Torres is rich with history and he knows that being in the game for a long time and having his first opportunity as a head coach he believes that this will not be for a long tenure.
"I don't plan on being around for a real long time because I have told my administration to not give me a plaque for 15-years of coaching and so I took the position because the worst thing you can do is hand over the program to a stranger," Torres said.
As he continues to run the program he will mold his younger coaches to take over his head coaching position or for another program in the future.
"I have been fortunate to be around coach Torres and Ruedaflores and with their success in football has helped me learn a lot from them and I have been able to take all the information from them and it has helped become a better coordinator and eventually a coach in the future," assistant coach Jacob Ochoa said.
Until Torres leaves, he has build a strong foundation in his football program and will continue to build around a young rising quarterback who he has a good relationship with.
"I have a close relationship with coach Torres but knowing that will be together the next three years that bond will grow even closer," Mendoza said.
Torres will take his calmness coaching approach with him into the tough Almont League play these next few weeks and as chaos ensues for his players all they have to do is look at him for guidance because they know he has seen it all.