Central’s new football coach brings college-style concepts to program

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Imperial Valley native David Pena signs on as the new Central Union High Spartan head coach for Varsity football.

EL CENTRO – Central Union High School athletics embarked on a new era this summer when David Pena took the helm of the football program as the new Varsity head coach, bringing college-style concepts to the high school.   

“I want to bring back the tradition of years past, because there is a lot to live up to here,” said Pena during an interview.  “There is a lot that has been established before we ever got here, going back to the ‘fifties and Cal Jones,” he added.

Born and raised in Imperial Valley, Pena played for the Wildcats and graduated from Brawley in 1997.  After playing at College of the Desert and then two seasons at Mayville State University, Pena pursued a career in coaching.

“I want to give back what was given to me. I want to help the kids develop a brotherhood and instill the unity of teammates and working together,” said Pena.

Pena started his coaching journey as a grad assistant coach at University of Nebraska in Kearney.  His second coaching position was at North Dakota State University where he worked with current Wyoming Cowboys Head Football Coach Craig Bohl and former Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley.

And Pat Perles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers area scout, was the defensive coordinator of the Bison during Pena’s tenure at North Dakota State.  

In 2006, Pena accepted his first fulltime coaching position at Western State College in Colorado and then moved back to Mayville State University for an offensive line coaching spot where he eventually became the assistant head coach.

“It was a great experience there (Mayville State), because I learned all the off-the-field duties that come along with coaching such as recruiting and grades,” explained Pena.  “The main reason why I got into coaching was to affect kids’ lives in a positive manner.  Football is a great product to bring out the best in people,” he elaborated.

Pena said he plans to utilize more college-style approaches and concept-based strategies at Central.  

“It’s all about the process, not so much about the outcomes,” he said. “Kids now-a-days are outcome based.  We have to preach doing things the right way. They have to buy in to the process. Many times we sell ourselves to outcomes and sometimes it’s like selling your soul, because now you’re willing to seek out that outcome at any expense. I’m not willing to do it at any expense. I’m willing to do things the right way so that kids learn that way,” continued Pena about his team goals.

“Kids have to understand that Central has a lot of pride and tradition because it means a lot to the community members, to the past alumnus who have played here. I understand, because I was part of it, the rivalry.  It brings people together in that way,” concluded Pena.