Carly Perales was hired earlier this year to fill Pat Cruickshank’s physical education position at Heritage High School.
Now he’ll also be following in Cruickshank’s coaching footsteps as the Patriots’ new varsity boys basketball head coach.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to coach these young men,” said Carly, who will become the team’s second-ever varsity head coach. “Coach Cruickshank ran a great program and I look forward to continuing the winning tradition that has been established here.”
Carly, an Oakley resident, coached Fairfield’s Armijo High for seven seasons before taking a year break last season. The Indians won the Monticello Empire League title in 2013.
Cruickshank departed Heritage after 13 years to become the new North Coast Section assistant commissioner.
“We are excited to have a veteran leader such as coach Perales taking over our program,” said Heritage Athletic Director Nate Smith. “He embodies the ideals which we expect to have our coaches convey to our student athletes, and he brings the experience necessary to continue pushing our program to even greater heights.”
Carly, who’s also coached a variety of other sports at Clayton Valley Charter and Lindsay high school, is a near-lifelong steward of basketball.
He grew up on the hardwood next to his father, Don Perales – Lindsay High School’s legendary varsity boys head coach – watching film and attending games and camps. He later played three seasons under his father and returned as his assistant for two seasons before departing for Armijo.
Don retired from Lindsay High School about 10 years ago, after 36 seasons as the Central Section’s all-time career win leader with 469.
“Pretty much everything I knew about the game of basketball came from him,” Carly said.
The new coach enters Heritage recharged. After seven seasons as Armijo’s head coach, with long commutes from Oakley to Fairfield, Carly took last year off to focus on his young family and other duties as the school’s athletic director. However, a season off and shorter daily trips – from Oakley to Brentwood – have reawakened his coaching passion.
“Being here in town, it just felt like the right time to get back into it,” he said. “All the games are close, and even though there will be some late nights, we talked about it and said, ‘Let’s try to do this.’”
With Carly now on board, a talented Heritage squad at arguably the height of its existence awaits.
The squad captured its first North Coast Section title last season en route to finishing 29-3.
The team was slated to return eight of 13 players at the end of last season, including all-league first team guard Ezra Manjon and all-league second team forward Charles Stanford. Integral pieces, however, in two-time league MVP Jonathon Ned and all-league second team guard Jacob Williams, have graduated.
“He’s the real deal,” Carly said about Manjon. “Everyone has been telling me about him, and I have had the chance to see him play in open gym. He looks like he’s a great ball player.”
Carly said he plans to run a read and react offense, a system that emphasizes timing, spacing and player movement.
“What’s nice about it is it’s customizable, so you can fit it around the strength of your team,” he said.
Looking ahead, one of the coach’s first early challenges will be acquainting himself with his team’s mostly North Coast Section competition.
He coached a few times against Heritage and watched a few Patriots playoff games while at Armijo, but noted that he’ll have to fast-track his knowledge of local squads after coaching primarily against Sac-Joaquin Section teams at Armijo.
“That will be a quick learning curve for me,” he said.
While Carly’s learning, his new team will also be gearing up for next season.
The program’s conditioning work was slated to begin this week. Before long, practices will start and games will begin – all of which heightens Carly’s excitement.
“I look forward to putting out a good product, year in and year out,” he said.