Sunday Nov 23 2008
Oakmont's Mortensen steps down
By: Kurt Johnson, Press-Tribune sports editor
Football coach to move on after five-year run
After five years on the job, Oakmont High School football coach Dale Mortensen stepped down Friday at the end of a frustrating 2-8 campaign for the Viking program. The resignation takes effect Dec. 5. Mortensen leaves the program with fond memories of the people with whom he has worked and of many positive developments in the Oakmont football program. “I have tried in earnest to carry out the plan and program I came to Oakmont with,” Mortensen said. “While I feel we have not produced as I had hoped on the field, I feel we have been very successful in a number of other very important areas off the field.” “Dale has done some very good things for our program, especially in terms of grades and attitude,” Oakmont athletic director Dean Perkins said. “He felt that the results were not there in terms of wins and losses and stepped aside to give someone else a shot at it.” In a letter addressed to the parents associated with the Vikings football program, Mortensen cites specifically a commitment to academics, an enhanced training program and the Touchdown Club with its positive parental support. “Without any pushing from me, the players made a goal in our first year here to be 100-percent eligible academically, and we did it,” Mortensen said. “We have built a tradition of academic success with an average G.P.A. consistently above 3.0. We wanted our players to be at their best as students, on campus and in the community. It is about who they are as people not just as athletes.” While there are certainly mixed reviews within the Oakmont community on Mortensen’s tenure at the school, 2008 team captain and first-team all-Sierra Foothill League lineman Scott Schwieger has nothing but praise for his coach. “I respect him completely,” Schwieger said. “He has been a huge part of my four years here at Oakmont and has definitely helped me to become a better young man. I suppose there were some who did not like him, but if you focused on what he was saying and not always on how he said it, he had so much to offer.” Mortensen’s teams showed solid improvement in his first two years with the program, with his most successful team being a 7-3 club in 2005, his second year with the Vikings. That team shared the Pioneer Valley League title with Colfax and Bear River with a 5-1 league mark, and missed out on the playoffs when it lost a coin toss to determine which two would get postseason berths. The move to the Sierra Foothill League for the 2006 season has been a difficult transition for Oakmont, as the team has won just two league games in three seasons. His 2007 team was 5-5 overall, but just 1-4 in the SFL and sent a pair of players to Division I programs on scholarships. Since coming over from his prior post as a Granite Bay assistant, Mortensen accumulated a 21-28 record. “Dale is one of the outstanding football coaches anywhere,” said Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper. “He is a darn good football coach and I am sure he is not done coaching high school football. At least I hope not.” “Resignations often come with a lot of bitterness,” Mortensen said. “In my mind, this is just the opposite of that. I leave with thousands of great memories of great kids, coaches and parents who leave me filled with gratitude for the experience.” Mortensen remains in his teaching position as the school, with no immediate plans regarding another coaching gig, but he also says he expects to be back on the sidelines at some point. The school has no specific plan in place as of yet for finding a replacement, but plans to regroup and start the process beginning with meetings with the current coaching staff after the Thanksgiving holiday break.