The student news site of El Camino College

Coaching Warriors: Man, Myth, Engle

April 20, 2016

It’s Saturday night and the football stadium at Redondo Union High School is filling up with fans, alumni and students. While the El Camino College team warms up on the field, coach Eugene Engle enters the press box, wearing a blue polo shirt with an EC logo, khaki pants and white sneakers.


The six-foot-five coach, with blonde hair and sky blue eyes, doesn’t appear as if he used to play offensive tackle. While he takes good care of himself, players for this position are usually 300 pounds and up, however Engle has remained in good shape since his playing days.

Engle, 58, has had a hand in coaching numerous players who have played beyond community college football. His influence has helped players reach the National Football League, Arena Football League, Canadian Football League, World Football League and United States Football League.

In the press box, coaches have a bird’s-eye view of the action on the field. El Camino has been home to coach Engle for the last 34 years. His title on the football team include, co-offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and he also teaches contemporary health.

Walking into coach Engle’s office, the first thing you see is all the photos of ex-Warrior football players adorn the walls. The bright red jersey that hangs in a frame belongs to former Pro Bowl San Fransisco 49ers offensive tackle, Derrick Deese. One of the reasons he took the coaching job at El Camino was to help be a positive influence on the student athletes.

Photo credit: Jorge Villa

El Camino has enjoyed much success on the football field with coached John Featherstone and Engle. During their tenure, the Warriors’ have won 11 conference title, five consecutive Southern California playoff appearances, 19 bowl games and 21 finishes ranked nationally.

“Engle is the best offensive line coach in junior college football, Featherstone says. “He’s a tremendous coach. We’ve won a national championship and two state championships together.”

Engle grew up in Manhattan with his older brother. Phil Engle, who played football. Engle idolized him as a kid. He wanted to play Pop Warner, a youth football league in Manhattan Beach, but he weighed too much for his age class so he had to wait until high school. He watched his brother play football and wanted to follow in Phil’s footsteps.

Engle went to Mira Costa High School where he played offensive tackle for four years. He was recruited by UCLA coming out of high school but wasn’t offered a scholarship. Instead Engle followed his brother to El Camino.

“I looked up to my brother a lot so I really wanted to play football,” ENgle says. “Because my brother went to El Camino, I thought I would go there too with the hopes of getting a bigger scholarship.”

At El Camino, Engle played offensive tackle and earned ALll-Conference honors in 1975 and 1976. He went on to play at Stanford under legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh in 1977 and 1978. At Stanford, Engle was a member of the 1977 Sun Bowl and 1978 Bluebonnett Bowl teams.

After graduating Stanford in ’75, with a degree in communications, Engle signed with the San Fransisco 49ers but what cut during training camp. He received other offers but Engle said his heart just wasn’t into it. He was newly married and didn’t want to leave his wife.

One option for former football players after their playing days is coaching. They enjoy teaching and coaching young players. It keeps them involved with football. Engle did not want to teach or coach but he got his calling through prayer.

Photo credit: Jorge Villa

“I never wanted to get into coaching,” Engle said. “I prayed on it. I said God, I don’t want to do this but I’m open to doing this if this is what you want me to do. Through a series of circumstances. it was like a big neon sign, I didn’t have a choice, I had to go back and do it. All these obstacles that were in the way, all fell apart. The roar opened up. So I went back.”