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Crabtree leads Sage Hill's shift to 8-man football
It is a year of changes for the football team at Sage Hill, going from an 11-man to eight-man program, and a new coach to lead the transition. BJ Crabtree, who was hired by Sage Hill in early May, says he is ready for the challenges ahead.
“I love it ... I love the challenge," he said. "I think I’ve always known that eventually I would move back into high school (coaching) as my kids got older.
"I love the comaraderie, and the cool thing is for me, is that where I teach now at Pegasus, close to a majority of them end up going to Sage.”
As the former coach for the eight-man team at The Pegasus School, Crabtree grew the Pre K-8’s program from its start 18 years ago. After a few difficult years in the beginning, Pegasus became one of top teams in the Tri-Way League.
Although he won’t be coaching at Pegasus anymore, Crabtree will continue to teach at the school. He works in the school’s technology lab, introducing children in K-5 to engineering and other skills.
Prior to Pegasus, Crabtree was an assistant coach for the Fountain Valley High varsity team. His start in football began in high school at Fountain Valley, playing tight end. After graduating in 1992, he went on to play at Golden West JC, then to Sonoma State.
Crabtree’s career as a high school football coach could have started long ago, but he decided to put spending time with his family first. Now, he is proud to say that his oldest son, Nick, will begin playing football this fall at Boise State on a scholarship. Nick, a recent Huntington Beach High graduate, will be play tight end at the collegiate level, just like his father.
And now, at the end of his run at Pegasus, Crabtree says he’s proud to have left a team with a two-year undefeated streak. Aside from the age of the players, Crabtree says that the only real difference between going from Pegasus to Sage Hill, is going from flag to tackle football.
“There’s a lot of similarities to it right up until the tackle," he said. "It’s proper angles, its dropping your hips, it’s rolling your hands, all of those things.”
Some of the returning players and their parents were initially upset about Sage Hill transitioning to an eight-man team, but Crabtree said it was the right decision by the school's administration.
“With this change to eight-man football and my first head coaching job at the varsity level, the support and belief in me by our athletic director Megan Cid has been incredible,” he said.
“She’s a great, confident leader, and while this decision to move to eight-man wasn’t popular, she never wavered.”
Crabtree says that as long as he is the coach at Sage Hill, and the enrollment numbers remain the same, so will the eight-man team.
“Player safety is of high importance for me. When you have low numbers and you’re an 11-man team, you’re probably forcing true freshmen to have to play," he said. "And that becomes a safety issue, so the answer is I believe we’re turning a corner.
“We have a lot of kids who told me, to my face, that they were on the fence about playing. And now they haven’t missed another summer practice once they’ve seen what we’ve been doing.”