Players, recruits and transfers eager to work with new football coach

New+El+Camino+head+football+coach+Gifford+Lindheim+talking+with+longtime+assistant+coach+Eugene+Engle+at+a+spring+practice+on+Tuesday%2C+March+29.+Photo+credit%3A+Jo+Rankin

New El Camino head football coach Gifford Lindheim talking with longtime assistant coach Eugene Engle at a spring practice on Tuesday, March 29. Photo credit: Jo Rankin

UPDATE 4/2, 12:30 a.m.: Santa Monica College won the Southern California Football Association American Division Championship game, not the state championship in 2015.

The recent hiring of Gifford Lindheim as the the new head coach of the El Camino football team has grabbed the attention of current players, as well as prospects coming from high schools and other junior colleges.

Lindheim was hired after his perfect 2015 campaign at Santa Monica College that led to a victory in the Southern California Football Association American Division Championship game. He looks to bring in top recruits and replicate his success to EC.

“I want to build a great competitive environment here like I did in Santa Monica,” Lindheim said. “I want people to come from all over to play here at EC.”

Freshman tight end Erik Henneman played for last years’ undefeated SMC football team, and hopes to transfer to EC following Lindheim for another run at a conference championship.

“(Lindheim) is a great guy and handles everything in a professional manner,” Henneman said. “He is always on his job and is a really active coach. I think he will have everyone mesh together just fine and be ready to compete for a championship.”

The hire has already had an effect in the National Division Central League, with players looking to transfer to EC.

Conor Miller, quarterback for Mt. San Antonio College last season, hopes that transferring to EC will give him the best opportunity to further develop as a player.

“His resume speaks for itself, (SMC) was struggling when he arrived, and he turned that program into one of the best in the state,” Miller said. “I believe that he can do the same at (EC) because of his values, character and the way that he cares for his players.”

The team is currently preparing for summer workouts, where new players will take the field with the rest of the team to determine the starting roster.

There appeared to be four or five players doing quarterback drills at Tuesday’s practice, and Lindheim was asked about the competition.

“The competition is only gonna get juicier,” he said. “We encourage competition at every position; the more competitive you are, the better you get.”

Lindheim’s addition to the team brings high expectations for the storied program, and signals the start of a new chapter for Warrior football.

“No one can replace coach Featherstone and all he has done for this program,” Warriors wide receiver Chad Washington said. “I didn’t know anything about (Lindheim), but he says that he likes to win, and me and my teammates love to win. I think he is going to be a good fit.”