Pictured Above (L-R) Cameron Rising (Newbury Park), Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly), Richard Olivares (Buena), Chucky Wick (Ventura), Billy Westerling (Moorpark)
Photo by Dayna Olton
"I never chased players, I took pride in the
fact that all of our kids were from Ventura"
When Rich Olivares was asked by Tom and Matt Rozine to help out and be a coach within the Ventura Packers Youth Football program he stepped in to help out some friends. He already loved football but what he found was a passion for coaching and developed a knack for getting the most out of his players. From 1989 to 1992, “Coach Rich” volunteered as a youth football coach without a child playing in the program. Family obligations pulled him away during this first stint but in 2006 he found himself taking a head coach position with the Packers when his son, Tyler Olivares (Buena ’17) decided he wanted to play football. Little did he know that this group of boys would not only go on to wreak havoc for 7 seasons on almost all of the PYFL teams in the area but also produce 4 elite starters for four four different high school programs, two of which, Matt Corral and Cameron Rising, currently ranked as two of the top Quarterback prospects in the country.
Olivares, 51, is a painting contractor by trade and currently serves as the JV Running Backs coach at Buena High School. He was all smiles when talking about the memories of all his players. “I loved it, we had such a great group of kids and families during those years, it was so much fun.”
The team started out together in the Pee-Wees (7 & 8 Year Olds) with Matt Corral at Quarterback, Billy Westerling playing line, and Tyler Olivares at receiver. In their first season together, Olivares went 7-2 and lost in the first round of the PYFL playoffs.
The following season Cameron Rising joined the team and once again Coach Rich’s team knocked off almost every opponent they faced. The Packers rattled off 9 wins that season but fell to the eventual PYFL Champion, North Oxnard Warriors in the Semi-Finals. “The ironic thing is that we would always beat the Southern Division Finalist each year, usually Santa Clarita but we would always end up facing North Oxnard in the Semis and we just couldn’t get past them”, said Olivares.
In 2008, Chucky Wick fought his way onto the teams roster which completed the nucleus. “Chucky rushed for over 15 touchdowns that first season with us and was by far the best running back we had during our time together”, said Rios. Despite the addition of a hard charging of Wick again the Packers fell to their rivals from the “O” in the semi-finals.
The boys would go on to battle together for the next 3 seasons going deep into the playoffs each season. The Westerling family made the move to Moorpark in 2008 but opted to drive to Ventura to stay with the team. Westerling would end up leaving the team in 2010. The 2012 season would be the last season the rest of the boys would be together as the parents knew that Coach Rich was very likely going to age out of the program with his son, Tyler, who is one class ahead, was set to start at Buena in the Fall of 2013. The unknown left parents looking for solid 8th grade options for their sons as they prepared to transition to high school.
"He hit this kid so hard that he knocked out two of his teeth
and pushed another tooth up through his gums."
- Rich Olivares on facing his former player, Matt Corral
Wick would land at North Oxnard, Corral opted to play for the Westlake Braves, leaving Rising the only one of the original 5 to stick with the Packers in his final youth season. Coach Rich also made a change and went over to the Camarillo Cougars (GCYFL) to help them out. In his first game as a Cougar coach Olivares ended up coaching against Corral. “It was surreal”, Olivares said commenting on facing his former player. “On the very first play of the game, Matt ran down field on a kickoff and absolutely crushed the kid returning the ball. He hit this kid so hard that he knocked out two of his teeth and pushed another tooth up through his gums. I was so excited for him, it took a second for me to realize that he wasn’t playing for me”, said Olivares.
The kids definitely missed playing for their old coach in their last seasons. “It was definitely different without him there”, said Rising. “He made us better, I missed chasing him around in practice”, Rising said, laughing as he commented on how Olivares used to run the ball in practice as the running back and the kids would chase him.
Looking back Olivares was most proud of how disciplined the team was at such a young age. “I always got tons of compliments on how disciplined our kids were. We would have them lined up perfectly and as 7 and 8 year olds the boys were always very good and respectful”, said Olivares. His teams excelled in the classroom as well, of 26 kids on the roster 16 were on the honor roll. Coach Rich never thought that his core players would end up playing outside of Ventura. “Since my wife graduated from Ventura and I graduated from Buena we gave our son the option of which school to go to”, Olivares claimed. “I never chased players, I took great pride knowing that all of our kids were from Ventura, I never thought they’d end up outside of Ventura.”
As youth players all of these boys were great youth football players but in high school their games started to blossom. Rising landed at Newbury Park and his efforts over the last three seasons have earned him a scholarship to the Univeristy of Texas. Matt Corral started his high school career at Oaks Christian and transferred this past off-season to Long Beach Poly. He has committed to play at USC and is rated as one of the top Pro-Style Quarterbacks in the country. Chucky Wick landed at St. Bonaventure and transferred to Ventura to finish off his Senior year and will be spearheading the Cougar ground attack. Wick currently has offers on the table from Nevada, San Jose State, Fresno State, Wyoming, and Hawaii. Billy Westerling will be wrapping up his high school career this fall, likely starting at Quarterback and Safety for the Musketeers. Westerling’s play and size is garnering interest from Illinois, Indiana, and Cal Poly. Tyler Olivares will be graduating from Buena this June and has committed to play football at Northwestern College (Iowa).
Volunteering for a youth organization isn’t uncommon in our great country. Volunteering as a youth football coach requires so many hours during a season that it takes a very unique person to do so. To be a successful football coach like Coach Rich requires a great deal of drive, discipline, and desire, all the things that he professed to his players Richard Olivares Emulated. He genuinely cared. “I’m very proud of all of the kids that played for me not just the ones that are going to the next level”, said the proud coach. There is no doubt that all of the young men featured in this article will continue to take a piece of Coach Rich as they compete in their final high school year and in the years to come. “These kids obviously had great parents that supported them but I’d like to think that the discipline that I helped to instill in them at a young age has helped them be successful.” Well Coach Rich one practice can leave an indelible mark on an athlete, a year can leave a lasting impression but its safe to say that while the wins may not have mattered the fact that you committed to these kids and they committed to you over a 7 year span speaks volumes.