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Inside the Amoako brothers journey to college football coaching

Stephen Amoako works with Austin Flax on Aug. 30, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo
Stephen Amoako works with Austin Flax on Aug. 30, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo

Mountain View senior receiver Austin Flax doesn’t know where he would be without Stephen Amoako or Deliberate Training.

Flax started working with Amoako three or four years ago. Once the training unfolded with Amoako – also a teacher in the area and a junior college assistant at De Anza – Flax’s progress on the football field turned legendary.

Flax tallied 330 receiving yards as a sophomore. He upped that 849 receiving yards and nine touchdowns his junior year. Ten-plus schools offered him. He was tabbed as one of the top players in the Bay Area entering his final high school campaign. 

Today, Flax is a Division I signee to Drake University.

“It’s kind of scary to think about almost because he kind of showed me how to unlock my speed,” Flax said. “Like (Mountain View senior) Sam (Thome) knows, once you get more comfortable with what you’re doing in football you just start to go faster, and he kind of just made that happen for me really fast. That just really helped me.”

And Flax is just one story as part of the Amoako bloodlines, as Stephen Amoako and his brother, Eric Amoako, have carved their ways up the coaching totem pole.

Early Days

The Amoako brothers started their football journeys together in Texas, back when they were playing football in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Arlington.

Going into high school, football wasn’t the sport the Amoako family was destined to play behind the prep level, though. Eric Amoako thought he was a basketball player, and that’s what he wanted to do.

But one of their teammates, who was playing Call of Duty 4, told them they needed to play football. He said they could be like Terrell Owens, who was playing for the Dallas Cowboys at the time. He convinced them to come out.

The coach called out their names. Eric Amoako remembers being a B team player and that he was going to be on defense.

Those first few days he wasn’t going full throttle. Eric Amoako said he was going “50-60%.”

Next thing they know, one of the coaches greatly believes in the Amoako brothers, and the rest is history from there.

“For whatever reason he just really believed in my brother and I and made me fall in love with football,” Eric Amoako said. “For me, I didn’t even come into high school wanting to play football, and I ended up signing to a top five school. I was lucky that I went to school with a lot of talent, but also and this is why it’s important to be around positive influences, so for me I’m a competitive person, so the one thing I knew was that I wasn’t going to be the weakest link.”

Eric and Stephen Amoako ended up playing college football together at Oregon and were on the runner-up team in the national championship game in 2015 before ending their careers at other universities – Eric Amoako later played at Houston Baptist and Minnesota, while Stephen Amoako went to Illinois State and Louisiana Monroe – but their journey into coaching came when they were in high school – just a few years after they realized football was a new love in their lives.

Coaching bug

Growing up in Texas, where the high school football lights and stadiums shine brighter than ever, Stephen Amoako saw the landscape there and knew it was something he wanted to do.

Coaches in Texas had to be a full-time teacher on campus. They’re all on campus the entire school day, and Stephen Amoako witnessed their level of joy each and every day. They were cracking jokes. Youthful. Lively.

It was something he wanted to do.

“That’s something that I always knew I wanted to get into, so in high school I just want to be a high school coach just like my coaches they get paid pretty well,” Stephen Amoako said. “They’re happy. Texas high school football is a big deal.”

For Eric Amoako, it was much of the same, and so was it when they were coaching Powderpuff football at Arlington Martin.

They were sending the players on up downs. They’re having the girls do Oklahoma drills. The 40-yard dash. 

However, players stopped showing up to practice, and one history teacher at the school knew it and wanted to talk some trash to his students. 

“He was like, ‘Yeah, I hear girls aren’t coming to y’alls practice. You guys are going to be getting whooped.’ Of course that only heightened my insecurity,” Eric Amoako said. “I’m like ‘Yeah. My reputation is on the line. We’ve got to win this game.’ So, shoot, our girls, we had them coached up.”

The Amoakos designed their offense based around Kansas State, whose quarterback, Collin Klein, was setting the college football world on fire and was a 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist. 

They drafted some stars. They had game plans set. 

During the coin toss, Eric Amoako remembers something different. A different feeling he had in his mind. He was juiced. Ready for the task at hand.

Right then, he knew this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.  

“After that power puff game, kind of like my brother echoed, that was immediately when I knew I wanted to coach and get into coaching,” Eric Amoako said.

Grinding towards a dream

Once Eric and Stephen Amoako first started coaching, the dream was set.

Following college, both of them knew they wanted to be college football coaches, or at least just coach football at any level. So, they got a great connection to start in Matt Dovenberg, now an assistant at the College of San Mateo, who referred them to his brother, Mike, who was the head coach of Gavilan College in Gilroy and is currently an assistant at the College of San Mateo as well.

It paid little to no money, but they did not care.

“Literally paid I don’t know what, it was nothing, and we’re moving to the Bay Area” Eric Amoako said. “I’m a kid out of college who hasn’t really worked. I didn’t realize how expensive the Bay was, so it was pretty tough. We were lucky that one of our teammates from Oregon, DeForest Buckner. He plays for the Colts now. He was with the Niners at the time. He let us stay with him for about a month and a half.”

Those early times in the Bay Area are when the Amoakos really started launching their coaching careers together. And their training careers before Eric Amoako moved his way up into being on a Division I coaching staff in the Mountain West.

After some training in Texas before moving out west, the Amoakos were going crazy looking for clients to train. 

They literally started from scratch. 

“We don’t know anybody out here, so we were just copying and pasting and just sending DMs like crazy to guys,” Stephen Amoako said. “So we’re training multiple guys at a time. I honestly can’t blame people for not wanting to train with us. We had no substance or no reviews, like no rapport. And honestly myself as a coach like the stuff I was doing then compared to now, like I would probably be disgusted in terms of the development of my coaching and teaching.”

The hours were crazy, yet it was all worth it, as all the work was paying off.

At first, Stephen Amoako didn’t realize how big the Bay Area was. He was at Gavilan in Gilroy and had a session with athletes in Richmond. They just finished practice at 4:30 p.m. at Gavilan and needed to be in Richmond at 6 p.m.

That’s typically a 90-minute drive, and Bay Area traffic can make that even longer and more daunting. 

He went out there, trained maybe two kids who showed up and worked on the financial details, which was no compensation. And one of the athletes asked for a ride home.

Plus, Stephen Amoako was also making other long drives. He drove to Sacramento twice per month and had a group to train out there.

When Stephen Amoako first moved to the Bay Area, he was working at a Nike retail shop in Gilroy, which paid around $8-9 per hour.

Stephen Amoako was living paycheck to paycheck, all in search of a dream. 

“I was just hungry,” Stephen Amoako said. “Anywhere. I was just going to pull up and train.”

Work pays off

All of those long hours and long drives paid off for the Amoakos.

Deliberate Training launched into a dominant presence in Northern California, training some of the top student-athletes in the region. Countless individuals coming through have gone on to compete at the next level.

This year alone in the 2021 class, they’ve worked with countless stars. Flax is off to Drake to play football. Fellow Mountain View teammate Ryan Cambouris recently committed to Linfield University. And those are just some of the few stars who are part of Deliberate Training

A recent elite session in November featured players showing up like Hassan Mahasin, a Division I recruit in the 2022 class. Or Nikke Reed, a class of 2021 athlete from Moreau Catholic who signed with the University of Colorado.

Other athletes, like Valley Christian senior Charlie Kinne, who has offers from Lake Erie, Mayville State and McPherson, credit much of their success to the work Stephen Amoako has done with Deliberate Training. 

“They help me out a ton,” said Valley Christian senior Charlie Kinne, who has offers from Lake Erie, Mayville State and McPherson. “They’ve had me talk to college coaches. They’ve given me new opportunities to compete at different tournaments.” 

“Just the growth that I saw in myself in those training sessions, in those 7 on 7 practices and scrimmages, seeing my footwork improve, seeing my ability as a DB improving, it’s crazy,” Cambouris said. “I give so many props to him. He’s helped me so much.”

Stephen Amoako is now an assistant at De Anza College in addition to his duties as a teacher and leader at Deliberate Training. Eric Amoako is a graduate assistant at Wyoming.

Both are on this college football coaching journey together and enjoying every minute of it.

“I would say for myself I’m really lucky,” Eric Amoako said. “I’m really, really lucky. Something I definitely believe in is that two brains is better than one, so I’m really lucky that I have my brother and we’re pushing the same needle forward. We’re able to work double time. I’m grateful to be where I’m at. I’m really grateful to be where I’m at and I’m happy with the journey that I’m on now.”

“It’s a blessing having your brother or somebody you can trust,” Stephen Amoako said. “We’re literally going the same direction. Any success he’s having is amazing for me because I know he’s not trying to do all that alone and to blow something up. Usually it takes multiple hands on deck. I always know I have on deck towards anything we’re trying to build.”

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