– High school football gets down to the nitty gritty this weekend when section championships are won and lost, and if Sacred Heart Prep wants a title, their coach Mark Grieb is the perfect man for the mission.
The Gators won a combined six games over their last two seasons, but they’ve won 11 so far in 2018 and will play for the CCS division III section title Saturday against Aptos.
They’ve completely shattered Greib’s goal that he set in August.
“He said, ‘We wanna have a winning season,’” laughed senior John Willard of the above .500 goal. “He hasn’t lived that one down.”
These days Greib is slowly living down his former life as a player. It’s been over a decade since Greib was a legitimate star quarterback in the arena football league.
The San Jose native won three arena bowl titles with the SaberCats and passed for more yards and touchdowns than you can in a video game.
Greib’s players were barely out of diapers at that time, but still have some appreciation for his football accomplishments.
“They came up with a nickname for me,” he said. “They called me the GOAT!”
The term used to have a negative connotation, today it refers to the “Greatest of all-time.”
“He’s the Joe Montana arena football,” joked Willard. “Who is this guy? We have an arena football team.”
Sarcasm aside, the SHP players know Greib’s football wisdom is bountiful.
Greib’s AFL career ended when the league eventually folded because of financial constraints, but he knew he had options.
He had a master’s degree and decided his next calling was as a teacher – both in the classroom and on the field.
“In the final years of my player career I was calling the plays and coordinating the offense,” he said of his transition from player to coach as a 36-year-old. “The guys on the team treated me like a coach and that made me feel even older.”
So far Greib’s coaching resume isn’t exactly glamorous. He got the head coaching job at Menlo College in 2013, and then a year later the administration cancelled the program.
He says he rarely thinks about what could have been if his football career went in a different direction. AFL players dream of what Kurt Warner achieved when the former NFL MVP came out of arena football obscurity.
Early in Greib’s SaberCats career, the Kansas City Chiefs were interested in his abilities, but not enough to make him a guarantee.
“I was four weeks from finishing my master’s at Stanford,” he said. “They couldn’t promise me a spot in training camp, so I didn’t end up going”