After 16 years at his alma mater Brett Ogata was looking for a change.
When the position for head football coach at Kentridge High opened last year, Ogata decided it was time to leave Mercer Island.
He began his coaching and teaching career at Lincoln High in San Jose, Calif., before taking a job at Mercer Island, where he had gone to high school. He spent six years as the offensive coordinator at Mercer Island and two years as the quarterbacks coach at Skyline, where he helped the team win two state titles. Ogata returned to coaching at Mercer Island when he took over as head coach in 2009.
“I was just at a time in my life where I felt I need to do something different and be challenged in different ways,” Ogata said. “I thought Kentridge would be a great place to come.”
Ogata replaces Marty Osborn, who stepped down last year after 26 years at the helm of the Chargers program. Kentridge was winless last season.
“The one thing that is important as a coach coming in is I want to respect any tradition that has been established here at Kentridge, but at the same time being a head coach I have to do things my way and what I think is the right way,” Ogata said. “As a new coach I need to come in and do things differently because I think the kids are wanting to do some things different and are excited for new ideas and new things. Hopefully, I can provide it, and hopefully the boys are excited.”
Ogata, who will also teach math at Kentridge, has made some changes to the program but decided to keep Osborn on staff as the running backs coach.
“Coach Osborn is probably one of the highest character people I have ever met,” Ogata said. “He’s about doing things the right way, and in high school, to me it is more important to have coaches who understand what high school sports are about and how to do things the right way. He really does. He understands what high school sports are about and how he can teach life lessons through the game of football. Our philosophies really matched up.
“I know a lot of people would say he’s the old coach so you shouldn’t have them around. … There’s only so many really good guys that can help, and Marty is one of those guys, and that is why I hired him on.”
The Chargers offense will look a little different this year.
“Coach Osborn was more of a run first philosophy,” Ogata said. “I am not saying that I’m not. I am more of a balanced philosophy. We will run and throw, but definitely we will pass a lot more. With the background I’ve had at Mercer Island, we’ve always thrown the ball a lot. Coming from Skyline, we threw the ball a lot there. (At) those places I really have developed an offensive philosophy of how you can develop quarterbacks and receivers and the passing game.”
Ogata has also made some changes to the defense, including hiring Danny Thompson as defensive coordinator. Thompson was in that role last year at Lakeside Upper School in Seattle.
“He is really fired up,” Ogata said of Thompson. “That energy he has is really carrying off to the kids. I think the kids really like what he is doing on the defensive side. He knows how to coach in challenging situations and he’s not scared of that. He is willing to really work hard.”
Ogata said he is pleased with the progress he has seen in his team in the first few weeks of practice. The Chargers kick off the season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, against Thomas Jefferson at Federal Way Memorial Field.
“The kids have lot of great goals,” Ogata said. “All the kids want to win state. They want to win league. They want to win all these games. The thing I am trying to teach these kids is those are great, but those are goals. What are the steps we have to take to meet those goals? That’s what we are trying to work on is being consistent every day at practice, consistent in every drill we do, every time we come out here. Those things and being consistent and working hard all the time will build upon itself. The byproduct will be wins.”
Coach Mike Bush has high expectations entering his third year at Kentwood.
“This will be the best team of my three years,” Bush said in an email. “The offense has a great senior leadership, accomplished quarterback, explosive run game and dynamic wide receiver. The defense has a chip on their shoulder, great back seven, athletic, fast and coachable.”
• Starting returners: Justin Seiber, senior, quarterback; Jake Moore, sr., wide receiver/line backer; Dyson Johnson, sr., running back/linebacker; Jacob Cronn, sr., wide receiver; Stephen Watson, sr., wide receiver/linebacker; Timmy Breeden, sr.; offensive line/defensive line; Conner McAurthur, junior, offensive line/defensive line; Mason Glover, sr., wide receiver/defensive back; Trey Thomas, sr., center/defensive line; Lionelletui Americana Mulitauaopele, senior, wide receiver/defensive back; Alex McGeachy, sr., wide receiver/defensive back; Cade Harris, sr., linebacker; Luke Klein, jr., offensive line/linebacker
• Top Newcomers: Alphonse Oywak, sophomore, wide receiver/defensive back; Kincade McFarlane, jr., wide receiver/defensive back; Wyatt Hansen, soph., offensive line; Victor Juarez, soph., offensive line/defensive line; Tayvonne Miller, sr., running back/linebacker; Jauwaan Gault, sr., defensive back, wide receiver; JaMezz Johnson, jr., running back,/defensive back
• Team strengths: team speed, senior leadership
• Team weakness: depth on the offense and defensive line.
• Team outlook: “We look to compete for the NPSL (North Puget Sound League 4A) championship,” Bush said.