LOS ANGELES — The Occidental College football staff is in place.
On Wednesday, first-year head coach Doug Semones announced the addition of offensive coordinator Brian Smith, as well as quarterbacks coach Darnell Arceneaux, and offensive assistants Don Nelson and Richard Brown.
Both Smith and Arceneaux played for Semones and are students of the run-and-shoot offense made famous by June Jones at Hawaii. Semones says their knowledge of the offense's up-tempo style fits Oxy's talented skill position players nicely.
"The experience that these guys have in this style of offense will fit our strengths and personnel," said Semones, who will serve as the team's defensive coordinator.
Smith played center at Hawaii from 1998-2001, winning a Western Athletic Conference championship with the Rainbow Warriors in 1999. After graduating he was an assistant at Oregon St. and the offensive line coach at Portland St. before returning to coach his alma mater as the offensive line coach for a year and the running backs for three years (2008-11). Last year he was the offensive line coach at Cal Lutheran, helping the Kingsmen to a SCIAC championship and the second-best scoring offense in NCAA Division III. Three of Smith's offensive lineman were named All-SCIAC and one earned All-Region honors.
Smith's specialty as an offensive line guru will help an Oxy front line that has been thin in depth and stature in the past couple of seasons.
"I liked the fact that the offensive coordinator would be an offensive lineman," Semones said. "He's a bright offensive mind who's ready for the opportunity to call plays and be a coordinator."
Arceneaux, a decorated former quarterback who played in the Arena League for the Hawaiian Islanders when Semones was the defensive coordinator from 2001-03, will coach returning All-SCIAC selection Tommy Edwards (Sherman Oaks) and the rest of Oxy's quarterbacks. Arceneaux played for Utah from 1996-2000 where he was 11-2 as the starting quarterback. In 1999 he led the Utes to a win over Fresno St. in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"He understands the demands of a college quarterback so he'll relate real well to Tommy. "He's coached (the run-and-shoot), he's been a head high school coach and he understands what it takes to be successful."
Smith and Arceneaux will guide a solid returning offensive core that includes wide receiver Samuel Stekol (Manhattan Beach), offensive lineman Dalton Spinas (Atascadero) and running backs Austin Cheadle (Portland, Ore.), Kwame Do (San Marino) and Casey Dudley (Sacramento), along with Edwards.
"I've always had great relationship with offensive line coaches. I appreciate what they do in the running game and in pass protection," Edwards said of Smith. "Coach Arceneaux played college ball at a great school, he was a great coach in Hawaii and we're excited about our entire staff."
Nelson will work with the running backs and Brown will coach the receivers. Both played their respective coaching positions at a high level. Brown was a receiver for the Kansas City Brigade, the Texas Copperheads and the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League from 2007-2009 and Nelson played running back, full back and tight end at NAIA Division I Tabor College.
"They are young and energetic guys that have played at a high level," Semones said. "They bring experience and energy to the program."
Justin Luthey returns for his second season as Oxy's director of football operations, as well as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.
Kevin May, a standout defensive back and former team captain at Oxy from 2008-11, returns for his second season, specializing in linebackers and the team's strength and conditioning program. With Semones as the team's defensive coordinator on the field, May will be on the other end of the head set as the main defensive communication from the booth.
Rob Hartenfels returns for his second season as well, this year as the team's defensive backs coach and video coordinator.