MONTEREY – Alex Besaw immediately felt a connection during his interview. The ideas he shared with a panel seemed inconsistent with what Monterey was looking for.
An attacking spirit with a disciplined background during his last two stops as an assistant football coach, Besaw felt the time was right to take the next step in his journey.
“I felt like we were on the same page in conversations,” Besaw said. “Nothing seemed forced. I want to build a program that transforms these kids into young men who make a difference in life after high school.”
Besaw, an offensive coordinator last fall in Palma, was named a new Monterey football coach late Thursday night, the third new coach in the past five years for the program.
“He will have to build an infrastructure,” said Palma coach Jeff Carnazzo. “There has to be patience. It can’t be done overnight. But Alex is dynamic enough to build that culture.”
Besaw, 33, has spent the past nine years on two of the more prominent programs in the Central Coast Section in Salinas and Palma.
Besaw, a former Oregon state pitcher who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, was a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at both stops.
“He’s very passionate, extremely organized and has a real vision,” said Monterey director Tom Newton. “He comes from strong programs with great traditions. I want to see that here too. Both programs spoke highly of him.”
Besaw will be on campus as he will be a special education teacher in Monterey next fall, a position he currently holds at Salinas High.
“We’re going to be back on time, committed to off-season training and committed to the classroom,” Besaw said. “First and foremost I am a teacher.”
During his last two seasons as offensive coordinator with Salinas, both quarterbacks set school records for passing yards and touchdown passes.
“I recommended him,” said Salinas coach Steve Zenk, who was an assistant to Besaw at Salinas. “He has a good mind and is good with the kids.”
In Besaw’s second season with Palma, current UC San Diego quarterback Grant Sergent threw for 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in 232 attempts.
“I handed over the duties of playing to him last fall,” said Carnazzo. ‘I said let’s try it. He has a good approach. He is young and creative. He brings new ideas.”
Besaw will inherit a program that is in a redesign phase after being 9-10 overall in the last two full seasons. The pandemic canceled football for Monterey in 2020.
The Toreadores were one of the most penalized teams in the province last year, dropping three of their last four games after a 4-1 start.
“We’re going to change the behavior and raise the bar,” Besaw said. “Those expectations may not be met overnight. We’re going to restore the base. I believe that culture is created out of season.”
Besaw initially knew nothing about the opening in Monterey until Zenk approached him and gave him the number of Monterey athletic director Jeff Dellis.
“I had a goal to become a head coach,” Besaw said. “I watched Monterey some more. I had a great chat with Jeff and Tom (Newton). When I was with Salinas, Tom was the head coach. I remember how talented their athletes were.”
There will be expectations beyond Besaw football. That discipline he preaches will not only be measured on the field.
“Football is a privilege,” said Besaw, a former high school quarterback and point guard. “If you’re not a good student, you won’t be playing football here for long.”
Besaw makes no secret of his desire to expand the field by committing an offense reminiscent of what current UCLA football coach Chip Kelly did during his days in Oregon.
“The plan is to throw the ball in the air,” Besaw said. “I won’t force anything we can’t do. But we’ll be a no-huddle, up-tempo attack. We will spread it. We have to be in shape. We will make it difficult to defend ourselves. Let’s have some fun.”
Last year’s 5-4 squad, along with an undefeated JV squad, is expected back, including quarterback Matthew Gallagher and Herald All-County receiver Jkai Thomas.
“He gets along well with children,” Carnazzo said. “He coaches them hard and they respect him. I’m really excited for him. It’s nice that some of our coaches are leaving and become head coaches.”
Implementing an off-season program will be Besaw’s number one priority. He hopes to meet the players next week and start his foundation.
“I want to let the kids know what I stand for,” Besaw said. “I know what a six o’clock workout feels like. I have to set up a technical staff. The sooner the better. I want to get started.”