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New Bruin In Charge Of Gridiron Squad
The Riverbank High football program has turned to its personal vault for the head coaching vacancy left by the departure of last season's head coach Paul Smith and this season's director seems extremely up for the challenge.

Former Bruin player Aaron Thurman will be manning the ship for the first time in his coaching career as he was named the new head coach for the Bruin football program. Thurman has enlisted the help of Riverbank legend Ron Hebert to assist him in the process, yet Thurman is more than ready to tackle his first head coaching job.

"I am very excited," Thurman said in an interview before a recent Bruins workout. "I am as excited as you can be. We have good numbers with a good turnout and so that makes me even more thrilled for the opportunity."

Thurman - who actually played under the tutelage of Hebert - is no stranger to the coaching demands, yet the opportunity to run an entire program will likely feature some ups and downs with a challenging Riverbank schedule.

"I was on the coaching staff at Modesto Junior College for almost five years," Thurman said. "I did not coach at all last year because I had some personal issues to deal with, but the chance to take on my first head coaching experience was a complete thrill."

The Bruins will not be given any charity support from the tough Trans-Valley League schedule, with Escalon, Modesto Christian, Hughson and Ripon teams caring less about the program being in a transition period.

Thurman will have to focus on preparing his team in his way and let the results on the playing field fall where they may. The intricacies that come along with being the head coach will also be a challenge, but that is a challenge that Hebert plans on assisting Thurman with in great detail.

"I helped coach Thurman when he was a player here (Riverbank)," Hebert said. "And we coached together over at MJC. One of the things we used to talk about traveling back and forth in the car was if we ever got a chance to coach together at the high school level, I told him I'd help him.

"For one year."

Hebert, who has led Bruin teams to success on every level in an array of sports, knows what amount of time and dedication it will take for Thurman to find success and he is adamant about helping the first-year coach turn a struggling program around.

"This is all about me trying to help him get acclimated to becoming a head coach," Hebert said. "I was a head coach for 15 years, so I understand what it takes to be a head coach."

The Bruins were winless in TVL action a season ago and a 20-0 shutout victory over Delhi was one of the team's only bright spots. The team lost a lot of talent, especially phenom Donovan Wallace, yet the squad does have some key returnees and a new leader who will bring an important ingredient to the table.

"Thurman is going to bring an intensity that this program has not seen in awhile," Hebert said. "He is a very intense young man; he knows his X's and O's and we have to get these kids to believe in what we're trying to get done.

"When you see us play this year you will see a difference in the football program."

Thurman will get his chance to change a program that has seen constant struggles in getting the bodies it takes to compete in one of the more challenging football leagues in the section. Success may not be measured in wins and losses for the Bruins, but improvements in every aspect are clearly the goal.

"Our expectations have to be high, but they have to be relative to what we can do," Thurman said. "We are expecting to be committed, we are expecting to be accountable to each other and we're going to play tough football in a tough conference.

"I think we are going to be very successful within those expectations."