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Oliver Takes Reins As Bruin Football Coach
Riverbank High graduate (1979) and former Junior College National Champion, Jimmy Oliver, will pace the Bruin sidelines this fall as head coach of the Riverbank varsity football team.

Oliver fills the void left by departed coach Aaron Thurman, and will lead the Bruins into another grueling schedule of games in what is considered the toughest small school conference in the state, the Trans-Valley League.

The TVL, which has claimed California Bowl Game championships in back-to-back seasons (Modesto Christian and Escalon), will now allow Oliver the opportunity to fight for the same league title he snared as a Bruin in 1978 (Oliver was a first team All-TVL receiver).

A few months later, Oliver graduated Riverbank High and joined the Modesto Junior College squad, where he ultimately landed second team all conference honors (defensive back), and was a part of MJC's National Championship run.

Oliver was named to the MJC All-Decade team in the 1980s, and went on to play football at Cal State Hayward, where he finished his education.

In 2002, Oliver's coaching career began at the storied and successful program at Division I Turlock High, where he was an offensive coordinator (freshman level) in 2010.

When Thurman stepped down, the opportunity arose for Oliver to take the reins at his alma mater, and he didn't ignore the chance.

"I have always had the passion to come back and give to the program that gave me so much," Oliver said on Monday. "Riverbank coaches like Ron Peterson, Jim Parker, Rusty Silva and Wes Remmers were a big part of the courage and motivation that I developed to play four years of college football."

Oliver is employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and plans to invest some serious time at the Bruin campus this off-season in preparation for his first year with the Riverbank headset.

He said his football players will move into a routine of weight room workouts four days a week this summer, necessary efforts if Riverbank is again to be competitive in a small-school league that has perennially dominated the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and has long produced some of the state's best teams.

Oliver's shotgun scheme with a wildcat twist should be an interesting challenge for a Bruin football team that was 0-10 a season ago and is a combined 7-63 since a 2004-05 season that saw the team go 6-5 with a playoff appearance from the Southern League.

But while Oliver will certainly be striving for notches in the 2011 TVL standings, wins and losses aren't the only thing on the mind of the Riverbank alum.

"My biggest thing right now is that I want to instill the belief to my players that we are going to do the right thing," Oliver said. "I want them in a position to win, not just on the football field, but also in life.

"We want to set some high standards for these kids."