COMING HOME Justin Hansen, a former Cabrillo College linebacker and defensive coordinator, was named the new head coach in November. (contributed)

APTOS—The Cabrillo College football program is slowly piecing itself together after receiving a two-year suspension following a rules infraction in 2020.

Justin Hansen, 45, a former Seahawks linebacker and defensive coordinator, is the first step of the rebuilding process. 

He was recently named the program’s new head football coach.

“There’s nothing holding me back in the sense that this was a great opportunity to get home and coach the school I love,” he said. 

Hansen was hired as a teacher and as the head coach, which was approved by the school’s governing board during a meeting on Nov 8. He will come onboard after Cabrillo reinstated the program on May 10

The Seahawks return to action in the fall of 2022. Due to California Community College Athletic Association sanctions starting then, the Seahawks will be ineligible for postseason competition for two years.

Cabrillo’s Associate Dean of Athletics Mark Ramsey said he’s ecstatic about bringing Hansen onboard.

“His resume is outstanding,” he said. “From his time as a player, he’s just a competitor.”

Ramsey said he loves the way Hansen takes care of the players and the way he schemes things out is excellent.

“His local ties, just knowing that he cares about Cabrillo and he cares about Cabrillo football,” Ramsey said. “That’s really important to us and making sure we bring the program back strong, and get local talent.” 

Hansen, a 1995 Santa Cruz High alumnus, will return to his old stomping grounds. He served as Cabrillo’s defensive coordinator under legendary coach Steve Cox from 2005-06 and Bill Garrison from 2007-2010, helping the Seahawks win two conference titles.

Cox worked with Hansen when he was a linebacker on his team and, later, a member of his coaching staff.

Prior to that, Hansen was a member of Santa Cruz High’s 12-1 team in 1993, which lost to Saint Francis of Mountain View in the Central Coast Section Division III Championship.

Hansen then played for the Seahawks in 1996 and ’97, leading them to a pair of conference championships and two Lions Bowl games. 

Hansen was a graduate assistant at Cal Lutheran (2000-03) where he became a running backs coach before taking over linebackers. He served as defensive coordinator at Chaminade College Prep (2003-04) in Los Angeles.

Hansen applied for the coaching vacancy in 2017, but Darren Arbet—a four-time Arena Football League ArenaBowl champion—was awarded the position.

Arbet, who was the former coach for the San Jose SaberCats, was at the helm when the Seahawks’ program was suspended.

Hansen said he will be looking to fill out his roster with local talent, including players who graduated high school in 2020 and ’21 who may be looking to return to the sport.

More than a dozen local athletes are playing football this season at junior colleges outside Santa Cruz County. Hansen said his job is to now recruit and retain the area athletes.

“Cabrillo College should be the home for all Santa Cruz County football players and that’s not just the all-league guys,” he said. “That’s for anyone that wants to continue their education and their playing career. Cabrillo College is a home for them.”

Hansen said he and his staff have three goals each and every season. The first one is assisting 100% of their sophomores to four-year schools.

They also want to return as many of the freshmen as possible and have them prepared for their second year. 

And finally, he hopes to bring home a conference championship soon.

“All three of these, I mean it, 20 years from now it’s going to be the same,” he said. “We want to win a conference championship every year … I have no doubt the talent is in this area to do that.”

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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