Kevin Oberlander has been down this road before, and he has not backed down from the challenge.
In fact, during his time as head football coach at Upland Western Christian High, he turned a previously struggling program into a winner during the past three years. Getting there wasn't immediate, he said, but the process was worth the while.
Now, Oberlander, 30, will take on the task of heading the football program at Marina. He was named Friday as the 13th head football coach of the Vikings.
He succeeds George Pascoe, who stepped down in November.
"My family and I are really excited for this great opportunity," he said. "I'm really looking forward to working with everyone at Marina High."
In his three years at Western Christian, where he said he will remain through the current school year, Oberlander's teams went 22-11. His last two teams went 19-4, and the 2013 squad reached the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division semifinals. The Ambassador League champion Lancers — who won their first 12 games of the season and averaged 42.6 points per game — lost, 40-39, to top-seeded and eventual division champion Jurupa Hills.
Prior to his arrival at Western Christian, the Lancers went 21-60 from 2003-2010.
"It was a three-year ride and it really was a great pleasure to see our kids succeed, but it didn't happen overnight," said Oberlander, who in addition to serving as head football coach at Western Christian is the school's assistant athletic director and heads the physical education department.
"How we did it really didn't have to do with football," he continued. "What we (coaches) did was come into the school and change the hearts of the kids. We taught them what it means to care about other people, what it means to be a great teammate. We taught them how to be selfless. That's the foundation of what we did.
"On top of that, we held the kids in our program to really high standards, both off and on the field."
He inherits a Marina program that is coming off a 1-9 season, and one that hasn't won a Sunset League game since 2004.
"There are a few of things besides his strong knowledge of the Xs and Os and his coaching philosophy that made us really think he was the right guy for the job," said Marina co-Athletic Director Michelle Spencer, who was part of the hiring process of Oberlander. "First was that he was passionate about being a Viking and second, he was excited about the challenge of changing attitude and culture of Marina Football. He realizes that change starts with him and he is up to it.
"We are excited that he is on board."
Oberlander knows the challenge he faces in rebuilding Marina and competing in the always-tough Sunset League.
He's stepping into a similar situation he faced four years ago when he took over at Western Christian, but doing so on a much larger stage, and in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division.
"It's an unbelievable challenge, but I see so much potential at Marina," he said. "They have great kids over there and talented kids. Regardless of how much talent you have, or how big your kids are, you won't be successful unless you have a group that really cares about each other, on the field and on the sideline. Really special teams have that.
"I also have so much respect for the Sunset League and the coaches in that league. I believe every one of them has won a CIF championship, which is really, really impressive. The schools in this league are so competitive, and our goal is to get Marina there."
Oberlander attended at Atwater High (Class of 2001) in Northern California, where he started at quarterback. He went on to play the position at Trinity International in Chicago, where he was a NAIA All-American.
He was an assistant football coach from 2008-2010 at Whittier Christian High before moving on to Western Christian.