The San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award for week eight goes to Chris Oswald from Cupertino High School in Cupertino, CA.
The Cupertino Pioneers maintained pace tied atop the El Camino division defeating the Los Altos Eagles Friday night 14-7. The Pioneers handed the Eagles only their second loss of the season, as Cupertino improves to 7-1.
The conference game proved to be a good one. The winner was going to have to earn it in a hard fought, "grind it out" kind of game where every yard counted. Both teams entering this match-up were notoriously known as run-first teams. It was no secret to either team what the other was going to try to do: they were going to run the ball. It was only a matter of who would do so better.
"We told the kids before the game if we scored 21 points, we would win the game. Neither team scores a lot of points," said Cupertino head coach Chris Oswald.
"Our defense made a lot of great plays. Both teams were hitting hard," praised Coach Oswald.
After a scoreless first quarter, both teams found the end zone in the second quarter. It was Los Altos who struck first. Cupertino fired back shortly after, making it a tied ball game heading into the half.
With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Cupertino put together a beautiful 85-yard, well-executed drive that would result in the go-ahead touchdown. Just as the Pioneers began to exhale, on the first play of the fourth quarter they fumbled the football, which put the ball back in the Eagles' hands with the chance to tie the game. Luckily, after sharing field positions in the fourth, Cupertino's punter, Ziya Jafari, pinned Los Altos back inside the 20, forcing the Eagles to drive all the way down the field, with no timeouts, to win the game.
The Eagles went to work and got themselves down inside the 20-yard line. After three straight incompletions, the Pioneers were able to hold off the visiting Eagles and secure the win.
"It was a really great game. For us to beat them is a pretty big deal. We are playing lights out right now, and I'm really proud of the guys. Seven wins is big," said Coach Oswald.
This is Coach Oswald's seventh year as head coach at Cupertino High School. Oswald took over a 1-9 Cupertino program and after a couple years working to rebuild the team, Coach has certainly done an incredible job of righting the ship. The one-win program he inherited has now seen winning records the last five seasons.
2016 has been special for the Pioneers, as this is only the second year the team has recorded seven wins since Coach Oswald has been the man at the reigns. Oswald's Pioneers are undefeated in league play and lead the El Camino division tied with Homestead High School.
Coach Oswald has been an active figure in the high school community for almost 25 years. The high school football coach has also been teaching for 23 years. Prior to coming to Cupertino, he was a teacher and football coach at Santa Clara and Pleasant Grove High School in Sacramento, CA. Oswald taught social studies at Cupertino until recently transitioning to PE. He decided to add yet another hat this year, as he is now the Athletic Director in addition to teaching and coaching. Coach Oswald's long-time commitment to the local high school community is truly commendable.
Oswald is a local guy, born and raised right here in Santa Clara. He graduated from Santa Clara High himself in 1987 and currently has a legacy in each school in Cupertino with his oldest daughter at Cupertino High, his middle daughter at the middle school, and his youngest at a Cupertino Elementary school.
"This is where it all is," said Coach Oswald. "We live right here behind the stadium. This is home."
This award means a little extra to Coach Oswald and is especially near to his heart. Oswald was the head coach for the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Game in the summer of 1998 where, to his surprise, he actually had the chance to meet Charlie Wedemeyer. Oswald was approached by Coach Wedemeyer' s son during half-time of the game who asked if he could come speak with his dad.
"This caught me by complete surprise," said Coach Oswald. "I knew he was there, but I knew he was in his portable bed and certainly didn't expect to have the chance to speak with him."
Coach Wedemeyer's son was able to read his lips and then communicate to Coach Oswald.
"We talked about what our opponents were doing on defense and what adjustments we could make. It was amazing because the conversation just flowed and he was so helpful, I will never forget that," said Coach Oswald.
A few years ago Coach Oswald then had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Lucy Wedemeyer, Charlie Wedemeyer's wife, while again coaching the all-star game.
"Lucy is just amazing. I worked closely with Lucy in every aspect of the game. From the rosters, to talking x's and o's during the team banquet… You could tell how much the game meant to her and what a wonderful person she truly is," said Coach.
As our Coach of the Week, Chris Oswald will receive a $1,000 grant for the Cupertino High School football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, he will also receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. The week prior to the game, Coach Oswald will be invited to the visit the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach Chip Kelly will officially present him with his award. Coach Oswald will also be featured on Cal-Hi Sports during their programming this weekend.
Congratulations, Coach Oswald!