FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Clovis West football program is steeped in tradition, with nine section championships and seven runner-up finishes since 1985.

But it hasn’t made an appearance in the section championship game since 2010.

That could be changing this year, because in the spring of 2021, the Golden Eagles turned the program over to an alum with a very familiar last name. And the early returns have been excellent.

After graduating from Clovis West in 2006, Eric Brown walked on at Fresno State and played as a true freshman. About midway through his college career, however, with injury issues plaguing him, then-Bulldog head coach Pat Hill decided to have a talk with the undersized linebacker.

“Coach Hill sat me down in the office and he said, ‘you’re gonna make a lot better coach than you are a player,'” said Brown. “Which I took as a compliment, which I’m not sure I should have or not.”

So Eric Brown went from player to student-coach, which seemed like a natural fit since his father, Dan, was one of Hill’s trusted assistants. (Dan Brown was on staff since Pat Hill was hired, and he was the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator for seven seasons from 2002-2008.)

Tragically, though, Dan Brown passed away in 2009 after a two-year battle with cancer.

To this day, Dan Brown’s example of how to connect with people is still something that resonates with his son, Eric.

“Coming out of my playing years, I wasn’t positive I was gonna coach,” says Eric Brown. “I knew I wanted to be around the game. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to coach. Once my dad passed, and at the funeral there were thousands of his former players that showed up, I thought that bond that he created was awesome and something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Eric Brown stayed on as a Bulldog graduate assistant for a couple of seasons, which then led to stints as an assistant at Indiana State, Idaho and UNLV. After head coach Tony Sanchez was fired by UNLV in late 2019, Brown found himself without a job, so he began thinking about returning to his roots.

“I had my eye on the landscape of high school football around here in the valley,” he said. “And this job came open, and Clovis West holds a special place in my heart.”

The reason for that is because Eric Brown won a Central Section championship in 2004 as a Golden Eagle, and his brothers Travis and Jordan were part of section championship teams in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

“When I saw it open (the Clovis West job), I told my wife that night, ‘I’m gonna go get that job.’ And she was all-in, all about it,” he said.

He got the job, and he officially took over the Clovis West program in May 2021 One of the first phone calls he received came from another former Fresno State walk-on, Adam DeCosta.

DeCosta had spent time at Golden West High School in Visalia since graduating from Fresno State in 2014. He was the Trailblazers’ defensive coordinator, and later head coach. Brown brought him to Clovis West as an assistant coach, overseeing the special teams.

He is also the school’s strength and conditioning coach for all sports.

“Playing with his brothers, I know how the Brown family is,” sayd DeCosta. “It’s all about family, football. I knew that he was gonna get the program rolling in the right direction.”

It hasn’t taken long to make that happen.

After winning only nine games over the last three seasons combined, Clovis West has emerged as a true contender for the Division I Central Section title in Eric Brown’s second season. The Golden Eagles are a perfect 7-0, and the No. 1 team in the section according to calpreps.com.

“This is a place that should be a championship program and it should be a football school,” says Brown.

“I know what we do here, the kids have bought in to what we’re preaching and I think that’s a huge reason why we’re being successful,” summed up DeCosta.

Adds Brown, “We had a chip on our shoulder, and that chip on our shoulder became a target on our back. And now we gotta sustain and handle success the right way.”