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Santa Ana on the rise under TeGantvoort

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

SANTA ANA - When Charlie TeGantvoort took over as coach of the Santa Ana football team, the Saints had won one game in its last 50.

In his first two seasons, Santa Ana went to the CIF-SS playoffs twice. As a result, the players say, TeGantvoort has instilled optimism in a program that was starved for it.

“It didn’t feel like they wanted to be here,” Jorge Briseno said of the coaching staff the Saints had the year before TeGantvoort took over the program. “When he came and said he was proud to be here and couldn’t wait to coach us guys, I was like ‘woah, I love this coach already.’ ”

TeGantvoort arrived in Santa Ana after a stint as the coach at Frederick Douglass High in Los Angeles, which he led to its first L.A. City section playoff win. Prior to Frederick Douglass, he coached at Carson and Centennial of Compton.

“I love being at places other people say you can’t succeed,” TeGantvoort said. “I’m here because I chose to be here. I’m not here by accident or desperation.”

The enthusiasm TeGantvoort brought with him was not lost on Jorge Briseno or his brother, Jonathan, who each rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

“He just brings everyone together and doesn’t let anyone slack off,” Jonathan Briseno said. “He looks out for you; whatever you need he tries to help.”

After graduating from Fountain Valley and playing two years at Golden West College, TeGantvoort walked on at Utah and played under Urban Meyer and Kyle Wittingham.

TeGantvoort also played for and learned from then-assistant coaches who are now head coaches at the college level - Gary Anderson (Oregon State), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) and Kalani Sitake (BYU).

However, it is a coaching lesson from Meyer that sticks out.

“In football, he treats you the way you deserve to be treated,” he said. “Some of these kids will die for you, and you need to make sure they get what they need.”

His dedication to his players is something they notice.

“I’ve been playing since I was little,” Jorge Briseno said. “And a lot of coaches don’t help out or coach just to coach. Not Coach T.”

DYNAMIC DUO

The Briseno brothers were a force last season, as they combined to rush for 2,615 yards and averaged 11 yards a carry.

Jorge Briseno was putting up eye-popping numbers before he tore an ACL and missed the final six games of the season. He rushed for 25 touchdowns and 1,383 yards, and he added 201 receiving yards on just four catches, a testament to his big-play ability.

It has been eight months since he underwent surgery to repair his ACL, and Briseno and TeGantvoort are optimistic he will play in the 2016 season opener.

The Saints, who started practicing this week, play their first game on Sept. 1 against Godinez. 

“I get upset a little bit when I can’t be on the field,” Jorge Briseno said. “But I have been going to the therapist, and the doctor and everything is looking great.”

After the injury to his brother, Jonathan Briseno shifted from quarterback to running back and still finished as the team’s leading passer (697 yards, five touchdowns).

Jonathan Briseno prefers to play wide receiver, and TeGantvoort plans to use him in a variety of positions this season.

During the time he was out of action last season, Jorge Briseno did what he could to help the team. He watched film and gave his brother pointers on what to look for during games.

“He studied film every night, telling me ‘watch this guy, watch this guy’ or ‘cutback on this guy,’ ” Jonathan Briseno said.

Jonathan Briseno was named Golden West League MVP and earned All-CIF honors in 2015, but he is quick to suggest those accolades shouldn’t have been his.

“I know you are the top running back in Orange County, this should have been you,” Jonathan said to Jorge on Wednesday. “He (Jorge) is going to come back strong and rack up more yards and more awards than me.”

While they are supportive of each other's on-field success, their competitive nature has been stoked for a long time.

“When we were young and playing ps3, my mom used to say ‘loser takes out the trash,’ ” Jorge Briseno said.


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