Courtesy of Matt Johnson
Madera South football head coach Matt Johnson (center with headphones) and members of the Stallions football team pose on NFL Network set during Dalas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard on Aug. 13.
In an effort to give his players an experience, Madera South varsity football head coach Matt Johnson took a busload of players to the Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard. Johnson rewarded 38 players who meat a Stallions’ status standard. “This was for all of the kids that dedicated to the summer program,” he said. “Those kids are committed to our program.”The Stallions received a VIP treatment that included taking a photo on the NFL Network set that was at the training camp. “We got to hang out with the players’ wives and families,” Johnson said. “It was pretty cool.”The players also got a visit from Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, who also signed some autographs and posed for photos. “The best part was he talked to the boys,” Johnson said. “He gave them a little lecture to start listening to the coach. He talked how to step in line with the coach.”The trip came on the heels of an early morning workout that took the place of the team’s intrasquad scrimmage that was scheduled for Aug. 11. Because of the bad air, the team was forced indoors and rescheduled its scrimmage. “We worked out in the early morning,” Johnson said. “Our kids got their full workout in the morning, loaded on the buses and took off.”Johnson used the trip to Oxnard as a team-bonding trip. Last year, Johnson went north to Napa for the Oakland Raiders’ training camp where he talked with former USC teammate Jack Del Rio, then the Raiders’ head coach. “Every school has their version of team building,” Johnson said. “It was nice to see the looks in their eyes watching football practice. They don’t get out to see that kind of stuff that often. It’s a reward they get to experience that isn’t like all the summer. If you do things the right way, you get to rub shoulders with the pros.”In his second year with the Stallions, Johnson knows he still has a tough road ahead. He is trying to change a culture and build a foundation. “We’re going to compete,” Johnson said. “I like this team we have with the competitors. We know we’re making a difference. Things are turning. I like the energy and enthusiasm. We have to coach better and they have to get committed. If we do that, we can be in the top 16 teams in the division.”The Stallions, who scrimmaged Washington Union-Easton last week, took this week off and will play the nine of the next 10 Friday nights (Madera South’s game at Bullard-Fresno is a Thursday night game on Oct. 18). Madera South opens the season Aug. 24 against the Kerman Lions in Memorial Stadium.