Douglas High School has a new — yet familiar — face on its football coaching staff.
Cory Hartzell, a 2005 Douglas graduate, is returning to the program and is already on the job, in fact, having started work as linebackers/running backs coach for the junior varsity squad this week as part of the Iron Tiger strength and conditioning program.
“Monday was my first official day and it was a good positive day,” he said. “I got energy from the kids. They were very receptive and focused, and I appreciated that. I want to be able to teach these kids and help them understand fundamentals.”
Hartzell started on both defense and offense as a senior for a 2004 Douglas team that went 8-3 and reached the Northern 4A playoff semifinals. Then again, this comes as no surprise to long-time Douglas fans. After all, his father, Lance, was a multi-talented player who played as a senior for the Tigers during their 6-2 season in 1977.
Now, father and son have an opportunity to coach together.
“My dad’s been a coach here for like 14 seasons, and just growing up, we’ve always talked about the idea of coaching,” Cory said. “We always bounce ideas off each other, and I liked the feedback he got, and the types of relationships he established with people.”
Varsity coach Ernie Monfiletto pointed out a number of alums are on the staff, including Joe Andrews, J.P. Albert, Ollie Herald, Austin Glenn, Kyle Mays, Marc Walling and Ed Garren.
“I’m just blessed to have great support from the alumni who come back to help us,” Monfiletto said. “Cory’s going to do a great job for us, not only because of his coaching ability but his love for the weight room.”
Mark Rhoads, who is now head coach for the JV Tigers, echoed those words
“You always want to get former players involved,” Rhoads said. “They’ve lived through it, they know what’s involved and what it takes to be part of the program. Cory knows what it takes to get those kids to reach the level he was at.”
Hartzell was a second-team all-league linebacker in 2004, a highly successful season in which the Douglas defense limited league opponents to six touchdowns. Hartzell played guard on an offensive line that helped Spike Agosta rush for what was then a school single-season record 1,881 yards.
Hartzell moved on to Feather River College (Quincy, Calif.), although he was forced to sit out the 2005 due to a recurring neck and shoulder injury sustained his senior season at Douglas. He started for the Golden Eagles as a sophomore in 2007.
“I initially started at inside linebacker, and then we had injuries on the defensive line, so they put me at like a shaded nose tackle,” he said. I was a little undersized (5-10, 245), but it worked. I had a lot of quickness and technique to make it happen.”
Feather River played in a Nor Cal Conference that included City College of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Rosa.
“Those are all top Northern California schools,” he said. “The competition was pretty intense.”
That marked the end of the line as a player for Hartzell, who decided to focus on academics at the University of Nevada, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
“I’ve always had a knack for computer-aided drafting,” said Hartzell, who now works as a manufacturing engineer for GE Energy. “In high school they offered an auto CAD class and I worked with my uncle at the time doing residential design work, so that kind of sparked my interest in CAD work.”
No doubt, he can hardly wait to see the 2014 football season kick off in August.
“It’s one of those things, you always wish you could put a helmet back on and go throw a football around and all that good stuff. This is as close as I can get to being a part of it and I’ll take whatever I can get.”