When Todd Dixon took over the Santiago Canyon program he did not know what to expect as the Hawks were starting from the ground up. The Hawks were scheduled to compete in the Orange Empire Conference as it is known to be one of the best conferences in the state. “I just wanted to get the program started but I got lucky with a couple of players that we recruited,” said the 4th year head coach. Luck is a word that is beneficial in the basketball world, as the Hawks were more than competitive. Santiago Canyon went on to win 22 games, finish 3rd in the OEC, and came within one game of making the Elite Eight in their first season of existence. “It was fun to start the program from scratch,” recalls Dixon. The Hawks took off from the starting gates and have not look back since as Santiago Canyon has become one of the elite programs in the state in such a short time.
It all starts with the culture Dixon and his staff has instilled. “I want our players to do the right thing on and off the court,” said Dixon. The doing the right thing on the court has led to instant success for the program. Recruiting has been good from the jump as the staff has a certain skill they want to have. The Hawks are known for having shooters and the head coach mentioned that he loves to have skilled players in the program.
Before coming to Santiago Canyon, Dixon had a very successful high school coaching career as the head coach spent 21 years coaching at El Toro High School where he won 449 games as varsity coach. “The main difference is the on the court game is physical and guys are skilled from top to bottom,” said the Hawks head coach. The talent is different at the junior college level as the Hawks are playing in the toughest conference in the state. “It is very competitive in our conference from top to bottom and you don’t have a night off,” added Dixon.
As this season rolls around, the Hawks will look to continue to build off their success. In the 2019-2020 season, Santiago Canyon went 28-2 and finished atop the Orange Empire Conference. The Hawks won two post season games and found themselves making a trip to the Elite Eight in Lemoore, California. The Southern California based school made the trip to the Central Valley and prepared to face College of the Sequoias. The Hawks arrived in Lemoore the day before the game and as they were driving to practice, they received the dreaded Covid call that ended their season. It was a disappointing end to a successful season but instead of being down, Dixon and his staff made the best of the situation. “We played a best of 7 series up pick up games within ourselves and went to Harris Ranch as a team and had a steak to celebrate,” said Dixon. Coming in to the upcoming season the Hawks will continue to push towards the state championship goal. The Santiago Canyon program is on the map and Todd Dixon and his Hawks staff will be one of the teams in the state that will make some noise.