Bellarmine Football: Continuity Builds a Community

Posted: September 21, 2017

Andrew Bensch

“The cool thing is you can go to any Bellarmine football player over the past however many years and say, ‘Coach Janda’ and they’ll know the name. It’s pretty cool that we get to be a part of that legacy.” - Cade Hall ‘18

The actual number of years in Hall's "the past however many years" reference is 34.

“This is my 34th year. It’s my job, it’s what I do,” remarked head varsity coach Mike Janda. “I’m employed here at Bellarmine to teach chemistry and coach football, so that’s what I do. Until I decide not to do it, I will keep doing it,” chuckled the legendary coach with a wry smile at Wednesday’s practice.

From the late 2000’s through 2015, Janda’s teams experienced a tremendous amount of on-field success. Bellarmine won West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) titles, Central Coast Section (CCS) championships and appeared in three California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship games during that span. It was a run the coach cherishes, but deflects credit to his players who came along during those years.

“It was really exciting to be able to coach some really outstanding players during those years. There is no doubt it’s the players that make the difference. Starting from about '07 to about '15, we were in the thick of everything, including three [CIF] state championship appearances, WCAL championships ... it was a really great run. Those boys were talented athletes, which is a big part of it, but they were also great guys who bought into everything and worked hard.”

While Bellarmine was certainly blessed with some great athletes during that span, including names like Usua Amanam, Michael Clay and the trio of Olugbode brothers (Kristoffer, Kyle and Kenneth), the long stretch of success would not have been possible without the consistency of the entire coaching staff.

Janda is far from the only staple of the Bellarmine football program. His staff includes fellow Bellarmine teachers and long-time coaches John Amarillas and Mike Henry. The continuity among the coaches creates a sense of community that cannot be generated out of thin air, but only out of years of dedication.

“Everyone knows who these guys are,” added Hall, a three-year varsity starter, in his praise of the coaching staff. “Not only do Bellarmine guys know who they are, but coaches and players around the league know exactly who they are.”

Bellarmine has gotten off to a 2-1 start this season as they head into league play. After their come-from-behind victory over Menlo-Atherton to begin the season, Coach Janda was recognized by the San Francisco 49ers with their Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award.

“[Coach Janda] has been a big factor in our success so far this year,” chimed Bellarmine’s leading rusher, tailback Austin Ajiake. “It seems like he always knows what play to call at the right time.”

After somewhat of a step back last season, finishing with “just” a 7-5 overall record, the Bells are hoping to rebound quickly here in 2017. Given the continuity among the coaches and chemistry in Janda’s playbook, one shouldn’t bet against a bounce-back season.

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