Champangnat Head Coach Hector Clavijo Discusses State Championship Run, Jalen Harrell, And More

Champangnat Head Coach Hector Clavijo Discusses State Championship Run, Jalen Harrell, And More

Matthew_Suero
Hialeah Champagnat Catholic just won their third state title in school history. I had a chance to talk to the head coach at Champagnat, Hector Clavijo, to discuss what was different between this year's team and the team from a year ago that lost in the state title game.

“The biggest difference in this year's team was the fact that everyone bought in a lot earlier than everyone bought in last year,” Clavijo said. “Last year, it was a lot of new coaches, new players, and it took a lot of time for the team to really gel together. We had a lot of unfortunate injuries as well last year compared to this year. I think the combination of being healthy, playing a really difficult schedule, and competing really brought the team together early. I think that carried all the way through into the playoffs and then made the playoffs a success for us.”

Champagnat is a small 2A school, but they are not afraid to play anyone in the country. This season they played one of the top-ranked teams in the country in Lowndes High from the state of Georgia. I asked Coach Clavijo why he decided to schedule a game 10 hours away from his school.

“I scheduled that game for multiple reasons,” Clavijo began. “One, because I'm big on giving the kids experiences that they may never get in life. How many kids, unless you go to division one, get to play in front of 12,000 people and a 450-person band? That's experience number one. Experience number two, you're playing against the number 6 ranked team in the nation. How many teams get the opportunity to do that? Experience number 3 was getting on a bus ride and traveling across the state, practicing at a university and doing all those things.

“That's three great experiences that many teams and many people never get to do. Then from a preparation standpoint, if you're able to compete and play with a team like that, you're going to learn win, lose, or draw. You learn so much from that game. You’re going to learn a lot as a person, as a coach, as a player as a team. You’re going to get to learn so much by playing a team that quality. I think the combination of all of those things is what made me schedule a game like that.”

A few weeks ago, Champagnat went up to Tallahassee to play in the state title game. This was the first year in a while that the state championship games were not held in Orlando, which was a controversial move, and coach Clavijo weighed in on the situation.

“Listen, I understand the state does everything for a reason. I’m sure there's probably really intelligent people that put these things together and then there are reasons for why they do things. Obviously, whenever somebody makes decisions, everyone's never going to be happy. My only problem with this 10-hour bus ride that we took, which mind you I'm used to traveling, so traveling to me is not the problem and the kids don't have a problem with it. My issue with this travel was we're playing for a state championship and we played in the smallest stadium that we played in essentially the entire season. I drove ten hours to Lowndes because of the atmosphere. Instead, we drove ten hours to play at another team's high school stadium. To me, honestly, it makes no difference. I've done my part. I play my football. I played in stadiums and done different things. To me, it’s about the kids. It's giving those kids the experience. I don't care if not one person shows up to the game. To me, it's about letting these kids have that experience of being in a large stadium. You want to have it in Tallahassee, let's have it at Florida State. You want to have it in Jacksonville; you do it at the Jaguars’ stadium. To me, the venue has to be special.

“This has to be something for these kids to remember the rest of their lives. I don't care if you told me right now, ‘Hey coach this year’s state championship is at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.’ I’ll be like, ‘Beautiful. I'll see you there.’ I don't care about the travel, I care about the venue. At the end of the day, it's about the kids' experience. That's where I think the state is lacking a little bit. It's about the kids. It's about having a locker room. It's about having an experience. Instead, we had locker rooms that literally as you're getting dressed, you watch another person use a stall in the bathroom. There was no door separating it. I think that's where there's a little bit of a disconnect when it comes from the state and really caring for the kids' experience.”

One of Coach Clavijo’s leaders from this state championship team, Jalen Harrell, signed with Miami on Wednesday. Coach Clavijo detailed what kind of player and person Miami is getting in Harrell.

“I mean Jalen’s a phenomenal kid. Super high character. ‘Yes sir, no sir’ kind of guy. Great family, great parents, just a really hard-working kid. He does all the extra stuff, he doesn't miss a practice, doesn't miss a weightlifting session, doesn't miss a film session, never late. He just really does everything you ask of him. He's going to be a guy that goes to Miami and he's going to be able to set the culture of how it is to do things the right way. I think that's big to have a guy like that in any program.”

One of the questions about Harrell is where he is going to play at Miami. Coach Clavijo believes that Jalen can be a valuable asset at almost every position in the secondary.

“I think it depends on what Miami is trying to do. I think right now, they have visualized him as a striker type, strong safety guy. I think that'll suit him really well. He's physical, he's in the box if you needed him to be, he could play your gap, and then he could cover a guy, cover the slot and he could get to the flats. He could do all the things that are necessary for that position.

“But if playing zone coverage and you need that big guy on the outside to play corner, he could do that as well. He’s so long, he’s fast, he's a big guy, so that’s a big help. He's kind of what you see out at the SEC schools with these guys that are these huge corners that look like linebackers. He could definitely bring a lot to the table, but I could see him playing either.”

I also asked Coach Clavijo to share what he could about Miami’s recruiting style and how they recruited Harrell.

“I think Miami recruited Jalen Harrell phenomenally. I think Coach Banda did a phenomenal job of everything. Attention to detail, being there, being around, watching him play, taking advantage during the contact period. He did a lot of things that I think were valuable to Jalen from a personal standpoint. That's what Jalen was looking for. He was looking for a guy that he was going to be able to play for and that he was going to be developed by.”

Harrell was not the only one of Coach Clavijo’s players that Miami was involved with in terms of recruiting. Miami also gave a late offer to linebacker Jesus Machado, who ended up signing with Tulane. Coach Clavijo went into detail on the recruitment of Machado and what eventually led him to sign with the Green Wave.

“As far as how Machado was, I think it was completely different. It was kind of one of those late type deals where they had guys on their board. They had other guys ahead of him, but I guess they really didn't know where those chips were going to fall so they went ahead and pulled the trigger on him with the offer. They were honest about it and then let me know what was what and where he fell on their depth chart per se, their pecking order. I understood that and so did the kid. Whether I disagree or agree with it is beside the point.

“Things literally came down to a final conversation the night before signing day, almost at 11:30 at night. We had a little bit of information about who was going to be going where and the question became “Okay if that happens, what happens with Machado?” I think maybe some needs may be changing for them going forward, I'm not sure. I think maybe some things might have shifted to a new perspective and I think the linebacker became a little bit less of a priority at this very moment for this class. I think their attention shifted elsewhere. I just couldn't let a kid sit around and wait and see. We just had to go ahead and take advantage of a great opportunity to attend a phenomenal institution of learning at Tulane University. I don't think you could pass that up.”

What does Machado bring to the table as a football player?

“I think UM is missing out on a great player. I think that's the kind of player that they're missing. Not only from an athletic and football standpoint, but I think he's the kind of guy that they're missing in the locker room. Especially with the departure of a couple of guys they currently have.”

Recruiting someone who is not on the top of your board can be a difficult and awkward thing to do, but Coach Clavijo believes that honesty is the best policy.

“If you're recruiting a guy not on the top of your board, the best thing to do is be honest. I think honesty is the best medicine in recruiting. Some coaches, for me at least as an adult, I'm able to read between the lines a little bit, and I have a good relationship with our coaches at UM. If they tell me, it's my job to now relay that message to the kid. If you recruit a kid and you tell him, ‘Hey man, listen, this is where we are at. These are our needs and this is what we want and this is who we want. That’s going to be our pecking order. Don't get me wrong, I really really want you, but this is what it is.’”

Lastly, I asked coach Clavijo about his thoughts on Miami’s recruiting overall, specifically what Manny Diaz is doing differently.

“I can only talk about my personal experiences. I haven't really had too much interaction with Manny since he became the head coach. I dealt with him a lot when he was recruiting Greg Rousseau, but now since he's the head coach, I know the rules are different now for him and whatnot. I said before, I think that Banda did a great job. I think David Cooney does a phenomenal job in recruiting and I think he's a phenomenal evaluator.”
 

Comments (20)

Hialeah Champagnat Catholic just won their third state title in school history. I had a chance to talk to the head coach at Champagnat, Hector Clavijo, to discuss what was different between this year's team and the team from a year ago that lost in the state title game.

“The biggest difference in this year's team was the fact that everyone bought in a lot earlier than everyone bought in last year,” Clavijo said. “Last year, it was a lot of new coaches, new players, and it took a lot of time for the team to really gel together. We had a lot of unfortunate injuries as well last year compared to this year. I think the combination of being healthy, playing a really difficult schedule, and competing really brought the team together early. I think that carried all the way through into the playoffs and then made the playoffs a success for us.”

Champagnat is a small 2A school, but they are not afraid to play anyone in the country. This season they played one of the top-ranked teams in the country in Lowndes High from the state of Georgia. I asked Coach Clavijo why he decided to schedule a game 10 hours away from his school.

“I scheduled that game for multiple reasons,” Clavijo began. “One, because I'm big on giving the kids experiences that they may never get in life. How many kids, unless you go to division one, get to play in front of 12,000 people and a 450-person band? That's experience number one. Experience number two, you're playing against the number 6 ranked team in the nation. How many teams get the opportunity to do that? Experience number 3 was getting on a bus ride and traveling across the state, practicing at a university and doing all those things.

“That's three great experiences that many teams and many people never get to do. Then from a preparation standpoint, if you're able to compete and play with a team like that, you're going to learn win, lose, or draw. You learn so much from that game. You’re going to learn a lot as a person, as a coach, as a player as a team. You’re going to get to learn so much by playing a team that quality. I think the combination of all of those things is what made me schedule a game like that.”

A few weeks ago, Champagnat went up to Tallahassee to play in the state title game. This was the first year in a while that the state championship games were not held in Orlando, which was a controversial move, and coach Clavijo weighed in on the situation.

“Listen, I understand the state does everything for a reason. I’m sure there's probably really intelligent people that put these things together and then there are reasons for why they do things. Obviously, whenever somebody makes decisions, everyone's never going to be happy. My only problem with this 10-hour bus ride that we took, which mind you I'm used to traveling, so traveling to me is not the problem and the kids don't have a problem with it. My issue with this travel was we're playing for a state championship and we played in the smallest stadium that we played in essentially the entire season. I drove ten hours to Lowndes because of the atmosphere. Instead, we drove ten hours to play at another team's high school stadium. To me, honestly, it makes no difference. I've done my part. I play my football. I played in stadiums and done different things. To me, it’s about the kids. It's giving those kids the experience. I don't care if not one person shows up to the game. To me, it's about letting these kids have that experience of being in a large stadium. You want to have it in Tallahassee, let's have it at Florida State. You want to have it in Jacksonville; you do it at the Jaguars’ stadium. To me, the venue has to be special.

“This has to be something for these kids to remember the rest of their lives. I don't care if you told me right now, ‘Hey coach this year’s state championship is at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.’ I’ll be like, ‘Beautiful. I'll see you there.’ I don't care about the travel, I care about the venue. At the end of the day, it's about the kids' experience. That's where I think the state is lacking a little bit. It's about the kids. It's about having a locker room. It's about having an experience. Instead, we had locker rooms that literally as you're getting dressed, you watch another person use a stall in the bathroom. There was no door separating it. I think that's where there's a little bit of a disconnect when it comes from the state and really caring for the kids' experience.”

One of Coach Clavijo’s leaders from this state championship team, Jalen Harrell, signed with Miami on Wednesday. Coach Clavijo detailed what kind of player and person Miami is getting in Harrell.

“I mean Jalen’s a phenomenal kid. Super high character. ‘Yes sir, no sir’ kind of guy. Great family, great parents, just a really hard-working kid. He does all the extra stuff, he doesn't miss a practice, doesn't miss a weightlifting session, doesn't miss a film session, never late. He just really does everything you ask of him. He's going to be a guy that goes to Miami and he's going to be able to set the culture of how it is to do things the right way. I think that's big to have a guy like that in any program.”

One of the questions about Harrell is where he is going to play at Miami. Coach Clavijo believes that Jalen can be a valuable asset at almost every position in the secondary.

“I think it depends on what Miami is trying to do. I think right now, they have visualized him as a striker type, strong safety guy. I think that'll suit him really well. He's physical, he's in the box if you needed him to be, he could play your gap, and then he could cover a guy, cover the slot and he could get to the flats. He could do all the things that are necessary for that position.

“But if playing zone coverage and you need that big guy on the outside to play corner, he could do that as well. He’s so long, he’s fast, he's a big guy, so that’s a big help. He's kind of what you see out at the SEC schools with these guys that are these huge corners that look like linebackers. He could definitely bring a lot to the table, but I could see him playing either.”

I also asked Coach Clavijo to share what he could about Miami’s recruiting style and how they recruited Harrell.

“I think Miami recruited Jalen Harrell phenomenally. I think Coach Banda did a phenomenal job of everything. Attention to detail, being there, being around, watching him play, taking advantage during the contact period. He did a lot of things that I think were valuable to Jalen from a personal standpoint. That's what Jalen was looking for. He was looking for a guy that he was going to be able to play for and that he was going to be developed by.”

Harrell was not the only one of Coach Clavijo’s players that Miami was involved with in terms of recruiting. Miami also gave a late offer to linebacker Jesus Machado, who ended up signing with Tulane. Coach Clavijo went into detail on the recruitment of Machado and what eventually led him to sign with the Green Wave.

“As far as how Machado was, I think it was completely different. It was kind of one of those late type deals where they had guys on their board. They had other guys ahead of him, but I guess they really didn't know where those chips were going to fall so they went ahead and pulled the trigger on him with the offer. They were honest about it and then let me know what was what and where he fell on their depth chart per se, their pecking order. I understood that and so did the kid. Whether I disagree or agree with it is beside the point.

“Things literally came down to a final conversation the night before signing day, almost at 11:30 at night. We had a little bit of information about who was going to be going where and the question became “Okay if that happens, what happens with Machado?” I think maybe some needs may be changing for them going forward, I'm not sure. I think maybe some things might have shifted to a new perspective and I think the linebacker became a little bit less of a priority at this very moment for this class. I think their attention shifted elsewhere. I just couldn't let a kid sit around and wait and see. We just had to go ahead and take advantage of a great opportunity to attend a phenomenal institution of learning at Tulane University. I don't think you could pass that up.”

What does Machado bring to the table as a football player?

“I think UM is missing out on a great player. I think that's the kind of player that they're missing. Not only from an athletic and football standpoint, but I think he's the kind of guy that they're missing in the locker room. Especially with the departure of a couple of guys they currently have.”

Recruiting someone who is not on the top of your board can be a difficult and awkward thing to do, but Coach Clavijo believes that honesty is the best policy.

“If you're recruiting a guy not on the top of your board, the best thing to do is be honest. I think honesty is the best medicine in recruiting. Some coaches, for me at least as an adult, I'm able to read between the lines a little bit, and I have a good relationship with our coaches at UM. If they tell me, it's my job to now relay that message to the kid. If you recruit a kid and you tell him, ‘Hey man, listen, this is where we are at. These are our needs and this is what we want and this is who we want. That’s going to be our pecking order. Don't get me wrong, I really really want you, but this is what it is.’”

Lastly, I asked coach Clavijo about his thoughts on Miami’s recruiting overall, specifically what Manny Diaz is doing differently.

“I can only talk about my personal experiences. I haven't really had too much interaction with Manny since he became the head coach. I dealt with him a lot when he was recruiting Greg Rousseau, but now since he's the head coach, I know the rules are different now for him and whatnot. I said before, I think that Banda did a great job. I think David Cooney does a phenomenal job in recruiting and I think he's a phenomenal evaluator.”
I like this coach.
He sounds like a stand-up guy.
What is his background?
Great work Matthew Suero.
 
“As far as how Machado was, I think it was completely different. It was kind of one of those late type deals where they had guys on their board. They had other guys ahead of him, but I guess they really didn't know where those chips were going to fall so they went ahead and pulled the trigger on him with the offer. They were honest about it and then let me know what was what and where he fell on their depth chart per se, their pecking order. I understood that and so did the kid. Whether I disagree or agree with it is beside the point.

“Things literally came down to a final conversation the night before signing day, almost at 11:30 at night. We had a little bit of information about who was going to be going where and the question became “Okay if that happens, what happens with Machado?” I think maybe some needs may be changing for them going forward, I'm not sure. I think maybe some things might have shifted to a new perspective and I think the linebacker became a little bit less of a priority at this very moment for this class. I think their attention shifted elsewhere. I just couldn't let a kid sit around and wait and see. We just had to go ahead and take advantage of a great opportunity to attend a phenomenal institution of learning at Tulane University. I don't think you could pass that up.”

What does Machado bring to the table as a football player?

“I think UM is missing out on a great player. I think that's the kind of player that they're missing. Not only from an athletic and football standpoint, but I think he's the kind of guy that they're missing in the locker room. Especially with the departure of a couple of guys they currently have.”

Recruiting someone who is not on the top of your board can be a difficult and awkward thing to do, but Coach Clavijo believes that honesty is the best policy.

“If you're recruiting a guy not on the top of your board, the best thing to do is be honest. I think honesty is the best medicine in recruiting. Some coaches, for me at least as an adult, I'm able to read between the lines a little bit, and I have a good relationship with our coaches at UM. If they tell me, it's my job to now relay that message to the kid. If you recruit a kid and you tell him, ‘Hey man, listen, this is where we are at. These are our needs and this is what we want and this is who we want. That’s going to be our pecking order. Don't get me wrong, I really really want you, but this is what it is.’”

Lastly, I asked coach Clavijo about his thoughts on Miami’s recruiting overall, specifically what Manny Diaz is doing differently.

“I can only talk about my personal experiences. I haven't really had too much interaction with Manny since he became the head coach. I dealt with him a lot when he was recruiting Greg Rousseau, but now since he's the head coach, I know the rules are different now for him and whatnot. I said before, I think that Banda did a great job. I think David Cooney does a phenomenal job in recruiting and I think he's a phenomenal evaluator.”
Good stuff Matthew Suero...Way to ask the hard questions. I agree with this coach 1000% the best way is to be upfront.
 
Have no idea how we held on to this kid but I’m glad we did. Sucks to hear about the state title game conditions. That’s crazy they sent those kids to Tallahassee to play in some BS stadium. FHSAA does some dumb $hit a lot of times.
it was literally a small high school stadium...Kind of idiotic. Not sure what that was about....especially with countless great stadiums throughout the state.

I kinda think they did a disservice allowing Machado to sign with Tulane early...unless he is an early enrolle. Kid would be hot on the market for alot better teams going into next signing day. Sometimes u cant ride the wave of everybody else.
 
Literally no replies to this great article, with direct quotes from an incredibly important local head coach.

I wonder why?
It doesn't meet the hoe mentality standards. If this was a coach complaining the little creepy bitches would have this at 10 pages by now.
 
it was literally a small high school stadium...Kind of idiotic. Not sure what that was about....especially with countless great stadiums throughout the state.

I kinda think they did a disservice allowing Machado to sign with Tulane early...unless he is an early enrolle. Kid would be hot on the market for alot better teams going into next signing day. Sometimes u cant ride the wave of everybody else.
Ya I don't understand a lot of these kids signing early with just any old team...Where the hell is Tulane gonna go if he doesn't sign? February signing day is there for a reason.
 
Good article and i think the coach isn't hinting anything that Miami did wrong. sounds like they were honest and told him he was a plan c kid. and he didn't like that. but ill agree with the rest of you that he maybe should've waited sign for a better school. but good luck to him at Tulane
 
Good article and i think the coach isn't hinting anything that Miami did wrong. sounds like they were honest and told him he was a plan c kid. and he didn't like that. but ill agree with the rest of you that he maybe should've waited sign for a better school. but good luck to him at Tulane
One things for certain, he gone have fun up in New Orleans, some of the Best Women on the planet. I dont blame the coach for telling him not to sit around and wait to see what the next man gone do, that coach is a coach is a coach who looks out for his players. Coach diaz and them were up front with coach C, coach just told them, i think you making a mistake, you shoulld take him now instead see what them out of towners gone do, cause he felt his guy is the real deal. The good news is, both sides stayed True, so respect is there!
 
I like this coach.
He sounds like a stand-up guy.
What is his background?
Great work Matthew Suero.
I like him too. I grew up with a bunch of Clavijo’s and Clavijo cousins on the Beach and they were good people. I wonder if this coach is related???
 

2020 Commits

RB
5'9"
195
Deerfield Beach, FL
OT
6'6"
330
Orange Park, FL
WR
6'1"
195
Bradenton, FL
QB
6'4"
210
Glastonbury, CT
DT
6'3"
290
Hollywood, FL
RB
5'11"
205
Miami, FL
S
6'2"
180
Hialeah, FL
WR
6'0"
185
Trussville, AL
DE
6'4"
240
Orange Park, FL
DE
6'3"
265
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

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Certain
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Medium
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2019 Schedule

08/24
Florida
Orlando, FL
L 24 - 20
09/07
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
L 28 - 25
09/14
Bethune-Cookman
Miami Gardens, FL
W 63 - 0
09/21
Central Michigan
Miami Gardens, FL
W 17 - 12
10/05
Virginia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
L 42 - 35
10/11
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
W 17 - 9
10/19
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
L 28 - 21
10/26
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
W 16 - 12
11/02
Florida State
Tallahassee, FL
W 27 - 10
11/09
Louisville
Miami Gardens, FL
W 52 - 27
11/23
FIU
Miami, FL
L 30 - 24
11/30
Duke
Durham, NC
L 27 - 17
12/26
Louisiana Tech
Shreveport, LA
L 14 - 0
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