Trent Herzog, Larry Gondola and cutting the umbilical cord

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Eight games into his first season as a head coach, Casa Grande’s Trent Herzog admits he’s still getting comfortable with all the aspects of his new job.
Take, for example, Casa Grande’s successful fake punt in Friday’s 31-14 win against Windsor, a 40-yard touchdown pass from Makana Garrigan to Allan Vargas that was the signature moment of the game.
Earlier in the week, after watching film, Casa Grande offensive coordinator Larry Gondola had suggested the Gauchos try the fake punt against Windsor.
Before going any further, a bit of background: Gondola, 58, is a Marin County coaching legend who had a 135-62-1 record at Marin Catholic from 1976-93. He is also one Herzog’s mentors. When Herzog got the head-coaching job at Casa, he asked Gondola if he would help oversee the offense.
Said Herzog, “I trust him 100 percent. If he tells me to do something, I’m going to do it.”
So Herzog wanted to use the fake punt Gondola had given his stamp of approval. But when? Prior to the fake punt Friday, Herzog went to Gondola on the sidelines.
The conversation went something like this:
Herzog: I’m going to call the fake punt.
Gondola: It’s your call, chief.
Herzog: Would you call it?
Gondola: You’re the coach. You make the call.
In recalling the moment, Gondola laughed and said he wants Herzog, a defensive guru, to learn to trust his instincts, which he says are excellent.
“He’s good and at some point and time you’ve got to cut the umbilical cord and do it yourself,” Gondola said. “He’s not afraid to do it on the defensive side. But he’s always asking me ‘Should I do this? Should I do this?’ I always tell him, ‘You’re the head coach. You make the call.’”