Ed Lloyd Casa’s secret weapon

Ed Lloyd, who coached 11 league champions in Sonoma County, has been an adviser to Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

The Press Democrat

If it’s free, many times that’s just about what it’s worth. But every once in a while free becomes priceless, so much so that the cost to purchase would be incalculable, like asking Ed Lloyd to open up his mind and let football spill out. Let it out, Trent Herzog asked him last February. You wouldn’t be paid but, please, let it out. All of it. Anything. Anytime. No worries. We are your sponge.

“I thought we were going to be a very good football team this season,” said Casa Grande’s football coach, “and I told Ed back then we wanted to take it to the next level. We had won the SCL before, gone deep into the playoffs but now we wanted to shoot for NCS. And I felt we needed an offensive identity.”
Lloyd was at the head of the list of candidates. Actually it was a very short list. There was only one name on it.

“All Coach Trent told me,” said Casa quarterback Nick Sherry, “was that I was going to be working with the best coach in the area.”

Pay attention, Sherry was told, to one of only three football coaches in the Empire to be named Cal-Hi’s Small School Coach of the Year in California. Listen to the guy that elevated Cardinal Newman to the football power and target it is. Take copious notes from a football mind that communicates quickly, effectively and directly, no fluff given and no excuses accepted.

“Laid-back intolerance” was how Lloyd once described himself.
So Lloyd, Sherry and the offense started 10 months ago, going in so many directions that Sherry’s head would hurt if it wasn’t stimulated so much. As a sample, for three months this summer, Sherry and 14 other Gauchos participated in a Lloyd exercise called “Outside The Paradigm.” It might have been titled, “You Ain’t Seen Anything Like This Before, Dude.”

The 15 Gauchos were given two psychology books to read: “Talent Code” and “Mind-Set.” With Lloyd there at the end of each book, to discuss with each player the content and the message. Each player also was told to write down three questions each morning, then to answer them each night.

“There could not be negative questions, like ‘What shouldn’t I do?’” Sherry said. “They had to be positive in nature. Like: ‘What great thing can I do today?’ Every week to 10 days Coach Lloyd would review our morning papers. We were also told to keep notebooks with us at all times and to write things down as they came into our mind, for future study and discussion. It was something Coach Lloyd suggested we do for the rest of our lives.”
At the end of the three-month period, each player received a T-shirt which read: “Outside The Paradigm.”

And that was just for starters. There was the field, football’s learning laboratory, one that Lloyd had worked for 28 years as a head coach and now, even at the age of 68, it always had seemed to him as a fresh, new experience.

“In 1950 I was 8 years ago,” Lloyd said. “I listened with my dad to the USC-Stanford game on the radio. From the very first play I understood what was going on. I could see the defenses, the offenses, everything. That’s when I knew I was going to be a football coach.”

Now, 60 years later, Sherry was next to a guy who had worked his brain pain through six decades of football, who still runs quarterback camps, who won 11 league titles in Sonoma County, who had gone through many changes in his life with football being the one unfailing constant. A love that never waned, not just for football, but also for the human being that is a the football player.

“I was an undisciplined kid when I was at Casa,” Herzog said. “I was an average student but I had a passion for football. ‘How do we motivate Trent?’ that was what my parents asked. I was put into contact with Coach Lloyd. Over an 18-month period in my junior and senior years at Casa, I saw Coach Lloyd a couple times a month. I didn’t like math, for example, but Coach Lloyd told me math was like an opponent that needed to be figured out. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Coach Lloyd.”

Herzog had been an assistant under Lloyd at Analy in the mid-90s. He wanted his mentor to work with Sherry.

“There are two things I look for in a quarterback,” Lloyd said. “First, his ability to release the football. Second, his ability to learn.”
With a 4.0 GPA at Casa and a smooth throwing motion, Sherry possessed both qualities. It was time to go to work. Don’t throw sidearm or three-quarters, Lloyd said. Throw right over the top.

“If you’re anything less than over-the-top, the ball will sail on you coming out of your hand,” Sherry said. “That’s because the follow-through is incomplete (because of the release point). But throwing over-the-top means you can complete your motion. And since I’m 6-foot-5, that gives me another advantage over defenders.”

Don’t throw to your pass receivers, Lloyd said. Throw away from the coverage, from the defenders, the ones who can break up the pass.
When throwing an “out” pattern, Lloyd said, don’t step toward the receiver; you’ll be throwing across your body, using just your arm and you’ll reduce accuracy and speed. Rather, take your lead foot and step to the side a few degrees; you’ll get more of your body and arm into the pass.

“Coach Lloyd said offensive linemen will block about 70 percent of the pass plays you call,” Lloyd said. “The other 30 percent, someone will get through. Be prepared. If you get sacked by a defender that was untouched, that was your fault for not paying attention to the defense.”
And when you get smacked down, as all quarterbacks will, get back up. Get ready for the next play. No shoulder slouching. No whining. Your teammates are watching. You are in charge. Act like it.

“When college coaches have talked to me, they are impressed with how I read defenses,” said Sherry, who at this time is verbally committed to Colorado. “That’s all because of Coach Lloyd.”
If it sounds like Lloyd set up a cot inside Herzog’s office, it almost would be true. On Saturdays, Herzog would Fed-Ex the Friday game film to Lloyd, who lives in Modesto. Lloyd would study the film and then call Sherry on Sunday night, when they’d talk one or two hours.

During the season Lloyd and Herzog would talk three to four times a week. On Tuesday of each week Lloyd would give Herzog his assessment of the previous game. Three weeks ago Lloyd started receiving and studying game film of Concord, Casa’s opponent Friday night.

“We knew if we were going to get deep into these playoffs,” Herzog said, “we would be facing Concord sooner or later.”
And such attention is warranted for the Minutemen, who have a 1,000-yard rusher, two 1,000-yard receivers and a quarterback who has passed for 45 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards.

“They may have the most explosive offense I have ever seen in high school football,” Herzog said.
All of which, of course, just whets Lloyd’s zest for a challenge. He started 60 years ago understanding the maze of defenders blitzing, criss-crossing, back-pedaling, leaping, crashing, colliding — and then finding a way for a quarterback to work his way through what might appear to the casual bystander as a prison break.

Lloyd has been working on the Casa puzzle since  February. Which explains why he worked for free all these months for his friend. Because, as you may have guessed, it hasn’t been work for him.

“I think everyone has a knack to do something,” said Lloyd, a simple explanation that, when examined more closely, could fill up even the most expansive of computers.

For more North Bay sports, go to Bob Padecky’s blog at padecky.blog.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.