The WSFL Western States Football League is home to some of the best JUCO, Junior College football teams in America. Part of the NJCAA these squads compete for the right to play in or host a National Title on a regular basis. In Arizona we have the Glendale Gauchos, Scottsdale Artichokes, Mesa Thunderbirds, Phoenix College Bears, Tucson Pima Aztecs, Thatcher Eastern AZ College Gila Monsters, Yuma AZ Western Matadors plus in Ephraim Utah the always tough Snow Badgers Stories and photos courtesy of Sports and Entertainment News, Arizona Sports Network Radio ASPN. Visit our College Football Page. 


WSFL Week one featured a huge game between #6 Iowa Western Reivers and #12 Arizona Western Matadors in Colorado. Ranks should be flipped now. In AZ two teams that struggled in 2015 met and yes, both improved. Between the two, Glendale improved more than Phoenix. Eastern AZ and Snow both played tune up games. It is likely their players learned little, but the stats still count. Mesa had a bye. read more….

Phoenix College has long been the JUCO that everyone wanted on their schedule each year. Twice. Sure, they have had some great coaches come through and nearly get it done. People like Avianantos, Wolfey, Jacobsen R.I.P., Allen just to name a few. Each brought some amazing experience to the school. For whatever reasons however, none could do the one thing that mattered most in junior college football.Recruit, no. Win, no. Keep the boosters happy, no. Change the schools’ colors to pump up the team, no. Find good assistants, no. Set scoring records, no. (Two of the last three in honor of John Allen) Why has it been over three decades since the PC Bears looked like they be could consistent winners, the pride of the sport in the heart of our largest city.


The best example of what it takes to reach the players is from an interview I had with the former head coach of Glendale College, the Gauchos. That would be Joe Kersting. Now the defensive coordinator at ACU, Arizona Christian University. He was part of a three decades long period of excellence at GCC. I wanted to know what he told the players, how did he keep the long line of success going. We spoke for a while. finally he summed it up, simply, using both hands to explain it.He said, "We try to let the players know that if they listen, learn and apply what they are being taught, they would always be part of a winning team." Then he put it all in a Zen like phrase that I got immediately. "We want them to have authentic confidence, just play, do your job and you will win."


So, now most of you will say, jeesz dude, everyone knows that. In fact, if you google "authentic confidence" you will see it attached to coaches, business, counseling. It is quite the rage in the personal development field. Now. But in 1980's and '90's. Not so much. If it were not for the internet and social media, most of us would not have many easy ways to define it. Because, before slogans became fads, a cheap sell to motivate. Authentic confidence had to be witnessed over the long haul to buy into it. 


A football player is by nature a warrior. Willing to sacrifice for the better of the team. The catch is that coaches have to earn the right to speak into a players’ life. Authentic Confidence. A great slogan, a better tool for a coach that lives and prepares for it.

Phoenix College, ASU, they were the first football story of the Valley of the Sun. I grew up here when the Phoenix Suns were a hard sell, the Diamondbacks, not even a dream. The NHL Coyotes, right, in the desert. Please fool. We did have the Sun Devils, Frank Kush and the Phoenix College Bears.


That is why it is so perfect that the coaches that have restored the roar to the program at PC were part of the greatest recent success of Sun Devils football. Head Coach Dan Cozzetto and Robin Pflugrad. They were together on the ASU Rose Bowl teams with Bruce Snyder.Remember ASU v Ohio State, yep, they did that. 


So why the comparison with Joe Kersting? Glendale has been, for decades a football mainstay in the JUCO ranks. Cozzetto and Pflugrad have been part of some great programs in football, for decades. It has become apparent that they are able to pass on that confidence to their players. To get them to perform, at the highest level possible.Until now, the last win for the Bears was in 2012. In 2015 they lost every game. I believe that a turning point was the double overtime loss at PC to Mesa, by a field goal. That night they played a complete game in all phases. Creating opportunities with their defense, killing it on special teams and scoring when they did get a turnover. But even more important was the focus I witnessed in players during the critical times. You cannot create speed, power, strength during a game with coaching. You can give the players a way find their best within however. Easier said than done, but when it is done there is no stopping the players.


So, why in the heck is the title talking about salmon? Sounds fishy to me. Well, Bears are passive hunters. They are at their best when they let the food come to them. A salmon is happiest swimming upstream, leaping through the air on its way home. The bear does not disguise its presence. It stands right in front of the salmon, and waits.When the salmon leaps, flies, knowing it can get past this big, clumsy bear and swim on. The fish jumps, the bear, yes is a bit clumsy, will use its paws to claw and direct the salmon to its mouth.Sometimes the bear gets a direct, dead on arrival catch. Mostly though it is a combination of moves, near misses and recovery that makes the fish his dinner. 


During the process, of his dinner invitation the salmon still thinks he is ok. Sure the bear snags him with his claw, but he can still twist and turn, so he must be good. Even after the bear has it in his mouth, the salmon is still thinking it can get free. He keeps struggling, then suddenly time is up, game is over. The bear sits down and finishes his meal.


The storal of this mory? If you see a slow, clumsy looking bear on your path to your next destination. Don't dismiss him, thinking you are much smarter, better, faster.


Stop, do a little thinking and maybe change your plans.Or you might just be in time for dinner.


The Bears as of this story, 3-1. Clumsy never looked so good.


Don't Be The Salmon!

Posted 9/11/16

Story, photos by Kevin Pakos for Sports & Entertainment News, 

Phoenix College Bears Football - Week Three WSFL 2016

Week 3 WSFL: Damon Sheehy picked up national honors with a kick off return for a touchdown on Saturday. Did some nice work at receiver as well. Read about it here...

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