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Trojans get two-for-one deal with new coach

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.

Petaluma High School gets a two-for-one deal with its new basketball coach.

Not only does Petaluma get John Behrs to coach its varsity boys team, it gets his son, Scott Behrs to help his father with the varsity.

The new coach is now less than a week into his first practices with his new team, but he already knows most of his players, having coached them on the freshman and junior varsity levels. “They know what to expect from me, and I know what to expect from them,” he says.

“We will have a really good group of seniors,” he says. “That will make it a lot easier for me.”

In addition to coaching and teaching basketball, Behrs will have to bring back a feeling of accomplishment to a program with a long and successful history, but one that has not had a winning record since the 2004-2005 season when the Trojans were 14-13.

“I want the kids to have a good experience. I want them to feel good about themselves,” he says. “I want them to come in wanting to practice. I want them to have fun.”

Behrs says he has always been a basketball junkie and has tried to learn from every coach he has ever played for, and that includes his youth coaches such as Jerry Thompson, Ron Walters and Gil Mesa, former director of the Petaluma Boys Club.

He calls the Petaluma job “an awesome opportunity,” but acknowledges, “We have a long way to go.”

He says his goal has nothing to do with a won-lost record, but with improvement.

“I want the players to have the mindset that they are going to do whatever it takes to get better, not just every game, but every practice. I want them to get a little better every practice.”

Knowing his players allows Behrs the luxury of already planning for the Trojans’ style of play in the upcoming season.

We’re going to look to push the ball down the floor,” he says. “We want to make ourselves a threat on the transition from defense to offense, but we want to be under control. Sometimes if you’re going 100 miles an hour, you’re not going at a pace that suits your skills.”

Given that he was hired less than two weeks before the start of practice, Behrs did not have a chance to work with the players in summer tournaments, although last year’s assistant varsity coach Marc Nadale did work with many of the players during the summer.

“We’re not going to use that as an excuse,” Behrs says. “We’re just going to pick it up and run with it.”

Behrs is about as Petaluman as you can get. A third-generation native of the community, his mother and father met at a poultry producers picnic.

A self-employed general contractor, he says he can pretty much set his own hours, allowing him time to devote to the basketball job.

He and wife, Donna, have two grown sons, Scott, who played at Stanislaus State and will help his father with the basketball team, and Kenny, who has coached with his father in the past and is a golf pro in San Diego.

Behrs is excited to get started. As far as he can tell for now there is only one problem. “I pretty much had plans for my first winter off in a long time,” he explains. Now his plans include a lot of gym time.

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