Mendoza returns to football as head coach at Dos Pueblos

Nate Mendoza was back on the baseball field Tuesday at Dos Pueblos High, but the coach wasn’t hitting ground balls or going over signs with his ballplayers. Instead he was running the football team through a spring workout.

Mendoza, the successful varsity baseball coach at DP, was handed the varsity football head coaching job on Tuesday by Athletic Director Dan Feldhaus. He replaces Jeff Uyesaka, who stepped down two weeks ago for family reasons.

Except for last season, Mendoza, 27, has been coaching in the football program at DP since 2008. He was the defensive coordinator on the Chargers’ Channel League championship team in 2010.

He didn’t coach football last season in order to focus on his first full-time teaching position.

Mendoza says he feels “blessed and honored” to be DP’s football coach.

“Jeff (Uyesaka) did some amazing things here,” he said. “I feel honored to be following in his footsteps. I know I have big shoes to fill; I know he created a lot of success here, winning that first Channel League championship in 2010 that I was fortunate enough to be a part of, and another city championship and making the playoffs last year.

“We want to strive towards that. We want to have the goal to compete for the league championship every year.”

Mendoza comes from a winning football background. He played for Robin Luken at Lompoc High and was a member of the 2002 Braves team that beat Serra for a CIF championship. His best friend and teammate from that squad is Andrew Jones, who has coached Lompoc to back-to-back CIF titles.

“I come from a winning tradition and I want to continue that here and instill that in our guys every day,” said Mendoza, who was an All-CIF player at Lompoc.

He said Jones and Don Cross, the defensive coordinator and athletic director at Lompoc during his prep days, congratulated him on getting the job.

“They’re really proud of me. They’re excited. I know they’re looking forward to week 3 or 4 when they come here to play us. It’ll be a fun game,” he said.

As far as filling a coaching staff, Mendoza said he’s going to check with people in the DP community and possibly elsewhere.

“Not being from Santa Barbara, it’s going to be a little bit of a difficult task. but I feel I’ve built a good rapport in the Dos Pueblos community for the last 4-5 years,” he said. “I’m hoping there are some people who will be willing to donate their time because it’s definitely a tough job but it’s a very fulfilling one.”

Mendoza has done well coaching baseball at DP. His teams have won 14 or more games and made the playoffs every year in his four seasons at the helm. Last year, the Chargers knocked off the No. 1-seeded team in the Division 2 playoffs. This year, they won the Channel League title.

Some of his baseball players were on his defensive unit on the 2010 Channel League championship football team.

While he’s unclear about his future as the baseball coach, Mendoza is excited to back in football.

“I’m here to work them hard and teach them how to be great, disciplined individuals,” he said of his players. “This is a very important time in these kids’ lives, where they’re going to learn things and carry it on in their lives.

“I just hope I can play a strong role in their lives as a strong role model. They’re going to learn things from me and the program and the other coaches and carry it on in their lives.”

Mendoza’s hiring at DP fills all the football coaching vacancies at the three city schools. Doug Caines is the new coach at Santa Barbara and Anthony Linebaugh takes over at San Marcos.