New football head coach Steve Matos steps in, hopes to improve players’ mentality and work ethic

October 5, 2022 — by Anika Kapasi
Football head coach Steve Matos talks with assistant coach Archie Ljepava before the Homecoming game against Mills High on Sept. 23.
Matos, who also works as a special resource aide, wants to use this season as a stepping stone for future success.

Last spring, Steve Matos officially became the football team’s new head coach after Tim Lugo stepped down to become the athletic director and football coach at Mountain View High.

Matos attended Pioneer High and had Lugo as his coach. In 2012, he joined the football program at Saratoga High as an assistant coach under Lugo. He is thankful for the valuable lessons his mentor taught him on and off the field.

“Last year, Lugo prepared me for the promotion, guiding me through the season and eventually handing over the play-calling to me,” Matos said. “He took me under his wing, introducing me to many influential people in the football world, and I am very appreciative to be able to share the lessons he taught me with the student-athletes.”

Matos’s new position is one he has been working toward for a long time. He said that he is grateful to work with assistant coach Archie Ljepava, one of his good friends and someone who, much like him, deeply cares about the football program and players as a whole.

Two years ago, Matos started working as a special resource aide for the special education program in the CBI department, in addition to his coaching job. Every Friday, he enjoys involving students with the community and hopes to eventually integrate the students more with football.

“I want to have a special education night where [the students] come out [to the football field] and throw the football around, be water boys or just do something to be involved with the team,” Matos said.

Despite his excitement about becoming head coach, the new position has been challenging. His late hiring led to an incomplete coaching staff because he didn’t have enough time to hire assistant coaches, which he does alongside athletic director Rick Ellis. Matos noted that with the time commitment and lack of pay, finding positive mentors who are truly in it for the love of the sport and student athletes can be difficult.

With fewer assistants than he would like, Matos is often unable to work with small groups of players or individuals, lowering the ceiling on what they can learn and achieve during practices.

Despite this struggle, the team has found more success this season compared to recent years. The team holds a 2-3 record after a 42-35 away loss on Sept. 30 to Monta Vista. 

Regardless of on-field results, Matos is proud of the players for putting in work both in and out of the classroom. 

“The best part of being a coach is watching these student athletes who had trouble in class and commitment issues be able to turn things around and become a family together,” Matos said.

Although participation in football has declined in recent years, with only 25 players making up the varsity team, a strong freshmen class of about 20 players has started to shift the dynamic of the program. 

“It’s been awhile since I have seen a freshman class with the work ethic that they have,” Matos said. “They are always asking questions, paying attention and doing whatever is possible to help them succeed. They are the building blocks of making this program shift to a better future, as they hold themselves to high standards even as freshmen.”

Knowing that participation in incoming freshman classes will be greater in the upcoming years, Matos hopes they will be able to move up divisions in the next few seasons. He hopes to help players improve their studies, learn a better work ethic and increase participation.

“I plan to stick around for as long as I’m allowed to,” Matos said. “I plan on being here to build up the football program back up to what it once was.”

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