High School Sports

Mission Prep’s new football coach David Schuster is ready to take on program’s challenges

Mission Prep’s new football coach David Schuster.
Mission Prep’s new football coach David Schuster. tgibson@thetribunenews.com

Back in 2011, Mission Prep junior quarterback Tyler Baty threw three touchdowns in a blowout win over Grace Brethren. David Schuster was in his second year as an assistant coach for the Lancers at that time.

Even in the loss, Mission Prep left a positive mark on Schuster.

“I was just incredibly impressed by the school and the kids and the atmosphere,” Schuster said. “I thought, ‘this is a special place.’ If it ever came open, it would be something I would be interested in doing.”

Schuster got his chance when Mission Prep head coach Chad Henry stepped down in December after seven seasons. So after seven years at Grace Brethren coaching the Lancers’ defensive and offensive lines, the Marine Corps veteran applied for the job and was hired. Mission Prep principal Mike Susank called him “the overwhelming choice.”

But the job is much different than it was in 2011.

At the end of last season, Mission Prep’s low participation numbers forced the school to abandon the 11-man football program and switch to eight-man. The team is graduating 11 seniors, and its two most promising underclassmen, Timothy and Joseph Miller, transferred to St. Joseph in Santa Maria. Schuster says none of that deterred him from taking the job.

“Football is football,” he said. “Whether it’s eight-man or 11-man or six-man, the team that blocks and tackles best almost always wins. That’s the case at every level of football.”

Schuster said part of the reason why he was hired was his experience at Grace Brethren, a small school in Simi Valley that faced many of the same challenges as Mission Prep in terms participation numbers.

Whether it’s eight-man or 11-man or six-man, the team that blocks and tackles best almost always wins. That’s the case at every level of football.

Mission Prep football coach David Schuster

The goal for Mission Prep and Schuster is to play one year at the eight-man level and then rejoin the 11-man ranks in 2018. Schuster said there were 25 students at the first team meeting last week, and he expects more to join before the season begins.

Some have never played football before, but Schuster said he is excited for the challenge.

Grace Brethren also faced its share of challenges the past two seasons. The team was forced to forfeit the 2015 CIF-Southern Section East Valley Division championship game and was banned from the 2016 playoffs after using an ineligible player.

“The coaches knew nothing. We were blindsided,” Schuster said. “(We found out) the day before the championship game. It was complete and utter devastation for the team.”

Grace Brethren athletic director Matt Cooper was fired for the incident after it was revealed that he knew about the ineligible player and didn’t inform anyone else at the school, according to the Ventura County Star.

“It was unfortunate that it happened,” Schuster said. “It was an oversight that occurred, it was immediately addressed and we took our punishment that we deserved and the school has moved forward.”

The soft-spoken Schuster said he plans to bring more from his military background to the Royals program than just his haircut. He wants to instill a sense of brotherhood and sacrifice along with intense training that is the hallmark of the Marine Corps.

We are going to train failure and then train success.

Mission Prep football coach David Schuster

“Occasionally, they are going to be in chaotic environments, and that’s by design,” Schuster said. “We are going to train failure and then train success.”

Schuster and his wife, Olivia, will finish out their contracts at Grace Brethren and officially join Mission Prep in May. They are in the process of finding a home for themselves and their 1-month-old daughter, Caroline.

“Raising her here in SLO is a big deal,” Schuster said.

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