OAKLAND (KPIX) – Michael Peters wears his name in big orange letters on the back of his sweatshirt, but after nearly three decades around the McClymonds football team, coach Peters needs zero introduction.
“We gotta get you back into shape,” Peters barked at a recent practice. “You guys ate too much gravy at Thanksgiving.”
Peters is gearing his team up for a run at their second consecutive state title, and will play East Nicolaus High School (between Sacramento and Yuba City) on Friday for the Northern California division 5AA regional title.
McClymonds players have been here before. Last year they beat La Jolla Country Day to win their first ever state crown. Weeks later the city of Oakland give them a parade through the middle of downtown.
“They actually felt like the Golden State Warriors,” Peters said.
In truth, these Warriors might be more dominant than the Warriors that play across town at Oracle Arena. McClymonds is riding a 56-game winning streaking in the Oakland Athletic League – it’s a run that dates back to 2009.
“Every year I put that out there,” Peters said. “What team is going to lose?”
Losing isn’t something the Warriors are used to. They are 57-7 since Peters took over as the head coach following a two decade-long run as an assistant. It’s an impressive stretch for a guy who started the job as a favor to his former coach.
“The first time I called a play I didn’t know what I was looking for,” Peters said.
The x’s and o’s have gotten much easier for Peters who is also the track coach, an on-campus truancy officer, and lives in a house behind the football field press box.
While McClymonds often wins the battle on the scoreboard, they rarely win the battle in the coffers. Peters’ players don’t enjoy many of the luxuries some of the other football teams around the area might take for granted.
Peters has a one-liner ready when he’s asked about his shoestring budget: “Do we have shoestrings?”
Money isn’t one of the things Peters dwells on. He only sees it as an easy excuse.
The beginning of McClymonds march to dominance began in 2009 when he took his players to watch USC practice at San Francisco City College as the Trojans prepared to play Boston College in the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park.
The Trojans made an impression.
“They saw how big the kids were, and they wanted to be on that level,” Peters said. “When they came home I didn’t have to tell them to get in the weight room anymore.”
Quarterback Emoreea Fountain was only nine-years-old then, but the effects of the USC practice experience has been passed down.
“Coach Peters says no days off,” Fountain said. “Just put it out on the field.”
Of the countless players Peters has coached, only one has made it to the NFL — his son.
Marcus Peters is in his third season with the Kansas City Chiefs and won the 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Not only is Marcus Peters proof that a McClymonds player can make it to the sport’s biggest stage, he can also succeed.
“Lot of kids don’t have dreams too much,” Michael Peters said. “He actually gives kids dreams that you can go as far as you want to go.”
The younger Peters is known as one of the NFL’s most emotional and demonstrative players. On Sunday he had an outburst threw an official’s flag into the stands, and earlier this year he screamed obscenities at one of his own fans in his home stadium.
Beyond the tough guy exterior, Marcus Peters has a genuine soft spot – McClymonds football.
Michael Peters made Marcus the ball boy not long after he learned to walk. When he was old enough to play, a long-time official laughed and said, “You finally made it to high school.”
“Through the journey they were right there beside me,” Marcus Peters said about the McClymonds community during a recent interview.
Peters wasn’t able to be with his dad when McClymonds won the state title last December, but he made the most of it.
“The kids skyped him, so he was actually in the locker room – excited,” Michael Peters said. “He actually purchased letterman jackets for all the kids.”
In addition to the jackets everyone got championship rings on Peters’ dime. For quarterback Emoreea Fountain, the sparkly jewelry means everything.
“Since this is my first big accomplishment ever,” Fountain said. “I wear it everywhere I go.”