Evan Yabu has been the eye in the sky at Thousand Oaks High football football practice this week.
Separated from his team for more than a week due to a COVID-19 exposure, the Lancers head coach has spent the week observing practice via a drone he’s been flying from his car, parked around the corner from the school.
“The kids are always waving at it,” Yabu said. “Saying ‘What’s up, coach?’ ”
Yabu, of course, can’t respond through the drone. Which makes practice a frustrating experience for a head coach during game week.
“Painful,” said Yabu. “I want to scream, ‘Kick the front the other way!’ … I just have to watch it and let it happen. It was brutal.”
Yabu was about to take part in an on-campus rally last week when he was notified of a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
“I’m getting ready to go to the quad,” Yabu said. “Instead, I went into full scramble mode.”
Passing game coordinator Khalil Paden was promoted to interim head coach. Former Thousand Oaks and Ventura College linebacker Matt Singleton took over from Yabu as the defensive coordinator.
“Up-and-coming coaches,” Yabu said.
Without its head coach and five starters, including two due to COVID-19 protocols, Thousand Oaks — coming off a massive win over Westlake — fell to Santa Barbara 27-3 last week.
Yabu can return to his team Friday, when Channel Islands High visits for a nonleague game. But the Lancers will be without three players due to COVID-19 protocols.
Yabu credits Principal Eric Bergmann, athletic director Brian Banducci, and athletic coordinator Mike Leibin for working to limit the potential outbreak.
“Our school administration has done a great job of upholding safety standards, contact tracing, and communicating timely,” Yabu said.
One upside from the “interesting experience?”
Self-described as “semi-experienced” with the drone prior to the past week, Yabu might be ready for a pilot’s license.
“I’m way better now,” Yabu said. “You should see my cinematography skills.”