When Jabari Carr looks at the Mountain House Mustangs football team, he sees the will to win.
Carr is the new head coach for the Mustangs varsity team. He is in his second-year with the Mountain House program, having served as head coach of the junior varsity team last year.
During his first year with the program, he saw a team that had experienced a steady progression in its first four years of varsity football under former coach Jason McCloskey.
The Mustangs went winless in their inaugural year and were 5-25 through their first three seasons. Then they went 10-2 in their fourth season, their first year in the Western Athletic Conference, including a 6-1 record in WAC play and a share of the league title.
“To me what McCloskey brought was the attitude that, hey, we can win here, and that’s what turned on the light bulb for me,” Carr said.
Though last year broke the pattern, with the Mustangs going 1-9 and McCloskey leaving before the end of the season, Carr sees all the elements of a successful team, including a group of players coming up from last year’s junior varsity team plus seniors who saw their school’s upperclassmen claim a league title two years ago.
“A lot of them weren’t part of that 10-win team, but they were part of the program at that point, so they know what it takes,” he said. “With the JV team last year, we only lost two games in our league. They went from a two-win season to a five-win season, so those guys are coming up motivated. When you mesh the two, that’s when the magic happens.”
Carr said the opportunity to build a team was what drew him to Mountain House football.
He is a 2009 graduate of Oak Grove High School in San Jose, where he and his twin brother, Omari, played for three consecutive Mountain Hamilton League championships. He went on to San Jose State, where he was a starting wide receiver in all four of his years with the Spartans, graduating in 2014.
He went on to secure pro football opportunities with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL in 2015 and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2016. Carr said that one of his former coaches — John DeFilippo, the former offensive coordinator with the Spartans, who also coached for the Browns and is now the quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears — recommended that he get into coaching.
Carr said that as he and his wife, Britney, looked to buy a new home, they discovered Mountain House, and he saw that the high school had a relatively new football program.
“I wanted to be a part of something that was new, where I could help bring tradition,” Carr said. “It was one of the most rigorous interview processes because nobody there knew me, things of that nature, but that’s the job that I really, really wanted a year ago.
“I think I just built a lot of rapport with the community as well as the student athletes and the administration within the Lammersville school district.”
He added that he recommitted himself to the program after McCloskey left, leaving a job in technology-related sales in San Francisco to spend more time with the football team as it finished the season.
“I think being around, filling that void, showed how bought-in I was,” Carr said.
He took on a job as a substitute security worker with Lammersville Unified School District and also is a peer educator for the K-8 schools. Building on his bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, psychology and sociology from San Jose State, he is now pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at San Jose State with the goal of becoming a high school counselor.
He added that Principal Ben Fobert and Athletic Director Guadalupe Galindo let him know that the job goes beyond coaching to encompass a role as a mentor for the students at Mountain House High.
“I work for a school that believes in me, not just as a football coach but as an educator, as a person, as a husband, as a father,” he said. “I’m blessed and fortunate to have the confidence in me to appoint me to the position of head varsity coach at Mountain House.”