Chaffey football team remembers coach in loss

It has been an emotional week for the Chaffey College football team.

The Panthers were dealt a blow earlier in the week when popular assistant coach and former player Stevon Thomas, 23, died suddenly of an unknown cause.

Chaffey (4-5, 1-3) took the field for the first time since then against Long Beach City and lost 45-21 in a game that really wasn’t even that close..Truth be told, the Panthers probably wouldn’t have beaten the Vikings on a good day without the emotion of the week.

Thomas’ parents, other family members and friends were in attendance. Many wore black T-shirts with Stevon’s picture. Some wore T-shirts with a No. 4, Thomas’ number at both Chaffey and later at Northern Arizona.

The family was presented a framed photo of their son signed by the entire team and coaching staff.

Players had the No. 4 emblazoned on the back of their helmets and wore black wristbands with a red No. 4. Many had his name and number scrawled on tape,. Defensive lineman Kevin Gannuscio had “RIP Coach Thomas written in large block letters on the cast covering his wrist and forearm.

The seat Thomas occupied in the pressbox alongside fellow assistant Dave Portz was empty. Portz is quite vocal and animated and Thomas would often chuckle when he was going off in a tirade. I know because it is just a few seats from where I’m sitting.Thomas was always plesant and mild-mannered, something not quite typical of the ferocious defensive player he was.

He will be missed.