LATHROP — Ryan Teicheira is no longer coaching at his alma mater but feels right at home with Lathrop.
The 2001 Sierra High grad has wrapped up the second week of practice as the new head coach at Lathrop, where he is reunited with longtime friends and colleagues. Teicheira has also scrapped the familiar spread offense for the Wing-T after spending the last two years as an assistant for Oakdale, a Valley Oak League power that has rode the system to great success under Trent Merzon the past two-plus decades.
Teicheira previously served as offensive play caller for Jeff Harbison’s spread offense at Sierra, and the tandem led the Timberwolves’ 2015 run to the Division IV-A state championship. Harbison stepped down after the following season and much of the remnants of his staff left for Lathrop a year later to join then-Spartans coach Joe Pirillo and brought the spread offense with them.
Meanwhile, an opportunity opened up for Teicheira to join Oakdale as both teacher and coach, and the experience helped reinvigorate his love for the game as well as his desire to lead his own program.
“Head coaching was always what I wanted to do, it was always on my radar,” Teicheira said. “Plans changed and I ended up with an opportunity to go to Oakdale, which is a different style of football, different environment, different everything than I had already been into.
“There was a love and passion that reignited. I loved being there. They love being out there, the players and the coaches. They have fun at practice. It wasn’t a decision that was easily made to leave Oakdale because of who I was surrounded with from admin down.”
Now a math teacher at Lathrop, Teicheira wants to be part of building a similar culture with the Spartans who have qualified for the postseason just once in their 12 varsity football seasons. Principal Greg Leland was Teicheira’s high school coach at Sierra and is considered “a great family friend.”
And although Teicheira has never lived in Lathrop, he is no stranger to the city and many of its residents. Before Lathrop got its own high school, most of the Manteca Unified students here attended Sierra.
“I knew I was coming to a place that was kind of like home,” Teicheira said. “I have someone here who is always going to look after me and make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing here.
“When I was in high school, a lot of my buddies were here. Lathrop is not far from Sierra, so there’s already that built-in (relationship) because of all the connections I have here.”
Teicheira’s coaching staff mixes some of the old with the new. Long-time defensive coordinator Ross Tisdell remains on board along with junior varsity head coach Jon Estante. Assistants Mark Rangel and Justin Miller have also stuck around — they were part of the staff that included Teicheira at Sierra. Justin Muschott is another former Sierra assistant to on the staff. Pete Hernandez heads the freshman squad.
“With most of them, somehow, someway there is a connection,” Teicheira said. “It’s not a (situation) where they have to get to know me, they just have to get to know what direction I want to go. They’ve bought in and they’re excited, which has made everything easy.”
As for the Wing-T, they’ve had little time in working in the new system and have just three more weeks left in their summer program before the Sac-Joaquin Section Dead Period kicks in June 12. The coaching staff held a program-wide mini-camp three weeks ago, focusing more on team building and conditioning.
Teicheira said the team is so early in the installation process that it won’t participate in any 7-on-7 scrimmages this summer. For now, there is an emphasis on getting down basic run plays and packages.
“We’re going to win game at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We’re switching the mentality. I used to be all in for the spread until I got to Oakdale and it helped me remember why I like football.
“I like the physical part of football, so I’m going back to those roots and bringing it here, which I think is what they want. The liners are intense and want to get after it.”
So far, Teicheira is impressed with the athletes and their willingness to work and learn the new system. There will also be a learning process for Teichiera as he gets acquainted with the opposition in the Western Athletic Conference. The Spartans will first take on Tokay, Mt. Diablo and MUSD rival Weston Ranch in non-league play.
“It’s going to be different,” Teicheira said. “VOL is all I’ve known and is a well-known powerhouse league. Coming into the WAC, I don’t know much about the other schools so there’s going to be more study time.
“Lathrop has always been a school that had the potential to be a powerhouse school and I still believe it with the athletes and the kids we have here. I’m not going to stand here and say we are going to win the WAC and go to the section final but I think we have a group that will at least compete this year.”