Long before that mess at the University of Redlands over a haphazard Twitter remark from head football coach Mike Maynard, there was a nice gathering of Bulldog players, their coaches and a former assistant coach.

Back in April. A pandemic shutdown was in mode. There was, however, a video conference.

Maynard said: “There were so many ‘take-always’ for our men to get better from Coach Keith Carter [offensive line coach, Tennessee Titans]. My favorite was ‘Do you live in a neighborhood or a brotherhood?’”

That’s the question for any team.

Carter coached at Redlands over a decade ago. The onetime UCLA Bruin “H” back has also coached at Wagner College, University of San Diego, plus stints as the Seattle Seahawks quality control coach during their 2013 Super Bowl championship season.

Throw this in: Carter is the grandson of Gino Marchetti, a Hall of Fame defensive end with the long-ago Baltimore Colts.

* * *

Now that Redlands High product Dave Aranda, a longtime defensive coordinator at the collegiate level, is head coach at Baylor, there are a couple of curious nuggets. 

He’s game-planned against the likes of Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, plus Heisman Trophy winners Derrick Henry and Lamar Jackson, not to mention covering WRs like Odell Beckham Jr. and Anthony Cooper ⎯ and boatloads of All-American blocking maulers that were high-round draft picks.

At Baylor, Aranda will be getting plenty of time to prepare against more Heisman hopefuls, All-Americans past and present, plus rosters full of future NFL prospects.

Aranda’s career, which started off at Redlands High (frosh team), coaching (not playing ⎯ remember a handful of shoulder surgeries during his prep days) at Cal Lutheran-Thousand Oaks, Texas Tech, Southern Utah, Utah State, you name it.

“I had really good mentors,” he said, naming the likes of Redlands’ Jim Walker and Miguel Olmedo, among others.

It doesn’t matter, either, where he learned those lessons ⎯ be it Cal Lutheran, Wisconsin, Houston, LSU or even game-planning against NCAA Division III Chapman University-Orange.

“Chapman,” he said, “was running a [wish]bone play. I sat at my desk ⎯ playbooks were everywhere ⎯ and just kept thinking about that play. Sometimes, you’ve just got to use common sense.”

It doesn’t matter if he’s coaching a small college like Cal Lu or a major university like LSU.

Aranda loves to “talk ball.”

“I have a lot of respect for guys who go out of their way to visit (say, LSU) to talk about ball.”

Then there are times, he says, when guys show up “because they want a job.”

* * *

Ever since he learned that the Arizona Cardinals had plans for him in 2020, Redlands East Valley hybrid DE/LB Kylie Fitts has been surrounded by high hopes and talented coaches.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, for instance, was head coach at Denver in recent years. That means Von Miller, a DE/LB that goes high on a list that is generally headed by Khalil Mack, the Oakland-traded-to-Bears pass rushing mauler.

Billy Davis, who has 25 years coaching experience in both college and NFL ranks, is Fitts’ LB coach.

When the Cardinals cut DE/LB Terrell Suggs late last season, guess who got his spot on the roster?

If you answered Fitts, well, that would be correct. Suggs is a possible Hall of Famer in future years.

During interviews, Fitts talks to me the same way, I think, that he’ll relate to Joseph, or head coach Kliff Kingsbury. 

“I really play with that chip on my shoulder. I got here [to Arizona, after getting cut by the Bears] … I got that rebirth … it’s the fun of the game.

“I’m playing relentless, like no one can stop me whether it’s going for the quarterback or playing special teams … playing with that chip.”

* * *

A freshman at Arizona, onetime Redlands East Valley catcher Kaden Hopson had seen limited time in a Wildcats’ uniform. Drew a walk, scored a run. Two at-bats. A little time behind the dish. Not much for a freshman in a pandemic season.

Played behind sophomore Austin Wells, who had a couple HRs and was hitting .375 when COVID-19 shut down 2020 for a 10-5 Arizona squad.

Hopson’s dad, Mark, who is Redlands High’s boys’ golf coach, took his son up to the Alaska Baseball League last summer. The lefty-hitter was a near top 10 hitter in the league (.293), had himself a 15-game hitting streak.

It’s five teams in that legendary summer league for college players ⎯ two teams in Anchorage, the Bucs and Glacier Pilots, plus the Chugiak Chinooks, Peninsula Oilers and Matsu Lions.

Wells, incidentally, signed with the New York Yankees for $2.5 million. He’s done at Arizona, clearing the way for Hopson.

* * *

“What your feet do, your arm does.”

That seems to be the proposition of QB Cavalry coach Scott Porter who, I think, had five starting QBs in last year’s Citrus Belt League chase.

Porter, the onetime San Gorgonio QB who wound up using San Bernardino Valley as a stepping stone to University of Washington and several years of playing indoor ball, has said this area needs a QB school for years.

Now we’ve got a QB school.

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