Seven candidates have been selected from within the Chino Valley Unified School District to be interviewed Feb. 17 for the vacant Don Lugo head football coaching job, according to Don Lugo athletic director Joe Marcos. Rick Martin retired Jan. 26 after four years at the helm. Don Lugo is not required to choose one of the seven candidates.
“After the interviews, we’ll see,” Marcos said. “We opened (the job) up to the district and if we’re not satisfied after the interviews, we’ll open it up to the outside.”
Thomas Leach was approved Tuesday by the school board to become Etiwanda’s new head football coach. After head coaching stints for two and five seasons, respectively at Diamond Ranch and Chaparral, Leach will take over for Steve Bryce, who resigned following last season.
“He seems like the type of guy that if we lose a game, it’s not going to be because he got outcoached,” Etiwanda athletic director David Masucci said. “He puts in the time and he cares a great deal about what he does. He’s a players’ coach, the type that gets his players to run through walls for him.”
Leach posted a 47-19 record in five seasons at Chaparral, winning a CIF-SS Inland Division championship in 2009. He was most recently an assistant coach for Norco after departing Chaparral following the 2010 season.
Thomas Leach, previously the head football coach at Temecula Chaparral and Diamond Ranch, will be recommended for board approval on Tuesday as Etiwanda High School’s new head football coach, according to the Chaffey Joint Union High School district board agenda. If approved, Leach will replace Steve Bryce, who resigned following last season, his seventh season at the helm for Etiwanda.
Leach coached Temecula Chaparral for five seasons before departing after the 2010 season. He was an assistant coach for Norco last year. Prior to accepting the head coaching position at Chaparral, he was the Diamond Ranch head coach in 2004 and 2005 following a stint as an assistant at Huntington Beach Edison. Etiwanda athletic director David Masucci declined to comment prior to Leach’s board approval.
After 12 years at the helm, Bonita head football coach Eric Podley will step down… but not very far. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s story special teams coordinator Adrian Medrano will take over as head coach and Podley will be his offensive coordinator.
Podley led the team to two league titles, nine playoff appearances and the CIF-SS Southeast Division championship game two seasons ago where the Bearcats lost a game for the ages, 37-33, to West Covina. Bonita’s long time head coach struggled with a health issue last season, an infection that caused him to drop a large amount of weight, that played a large role in his decision.
After seven seasons as the Etiwanda High School head football coach and “31 straight years on a football team,” Steve Bryce will resign effective at semester’s end on Dec. 21.
Bryce has been on the Etiwanda sideline in some capacity for the last 15 seasons but with his first child due in January, Bryce and his wife decided it best for him to step down. He will continue to teach anatomy and physiology at Etiwanda.
“It’s going to be tough,” Bryce said. “It was difficult telling the players because I didn’t want them to think I was abandoning them. I’ll still be here for them but I wanted them to understand that I was putting my family first for the first time ever.”
After the departure of Brice Sunderland, who served as the Etiwanda High School athletic director the last 14 years, the school didn’t have to look far for a replacement. As of July 1, Etiwanda softball coach David Masucci expanded his duties to include athletic director. A science teacher for 10 years and the softball coach since 2002, Masucci was all to glad to add to his responsibilities when he was hired as the athletic director.
“I’m attracted to all the sporting events anyway but this job just gives me a chance to really be involved,” Masucci said. “Now I’m just getting paid to do what I love.”
Don Furnald, who was hired as Etiwanda’s head baseball coach Thursday, spoke today about trying to spark an Etiwanda program that has one winning season in its last six and hasn’t made the playoffs since Brice Sunderland become the athletic director in 1997.
“The biggest expectation is to change the culture of the program,” Furnald said. “We’re trying to bring in a whole new program. It’s not like since I’ve been an assistant I’m going to come in and run the same program.”
Furnald, 30, doesn’t think the Eagles are far from being a playoff team.
“It feels like we’re right on the brink,” he said. “We want to be right in the mix in the Baseline League and that’s where we were last year. We’re trying to increase the positivity of Etiwanda baseball. We’re trying to build a tradition. We haven’t had that in a while and we’re trying to start that now.”
Fontana High School athletic director Evelyn Vance may be retiring but it’s a safe bet she won’t ever escape the competitive drive that drew her to the school 29 years ago. On June 30, Vance stepped down after five years as Fontana’s athletic director and 24 years coaching “just about every sport” at Fontana. Her newfound free time, however, will be devoted to an effort to rejoin the U.S. National triathlon team.
Despite a knee replacement a year ago, Vance, 60, is ready to dive back into the regimen that took her to 10 Iron Man competitions. She’s hoping that feats the likes of a 2.5-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride capped by a full marathon lie ahead of her. The fruits of the journey she’s leaving behind are nothing short of impressive.
“I came here in 1980 and it was the start of an empire,” Vance said. “I was running a junior high program that looked like a small college program. The town took me in and I’ve taken so much pride working in this city and for this school.”
As the head girls basketball coach for 17 years at Ayala High School, Mel Sims has seen his share of games on the hardwood. It’s the lack of soccer games, among other things, that led him to a decision to retire from coaching on Thursday.
“I’ve got a daughter on the soccer team who I saw play one game all of last year,” Sims said. “I’ve had 35 great years but at some point you’ve got to choose between work and family. I’ve been neglecting my family for too long.”
Sims, 69, has coached the Ayala girls to 14 consecutive Sierra League titles, leading the Bulldogs to a CIF championship in 2007 before a triple-overtime loss cost them a berth in the state championship game. He also won a CIF title in 1990 coaching the Pasadena Muir girls.
*** Update ***
After seven years as the offensive coordinator at Los Osos High School, Matt Bechtel was hired as the head football coach at Colony High School on Monday, pending board approval that can come no sooner than March 2. Bechtel, 35, begins his first stint as a head coach with plenty of hopes for a Colony program that won CIF championships in 2006 and 2007.
“If you look at the success at Colony and the potential there, it’s the type of program that can be a force not just in the area but in the entire Inland Empire,” Bechtel said. “I don’t think winning will so much be the challenge here as it will be to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new philosophy.”
Bechtel has spent nearly his entire coaching career in the Inland Empire, beginning with a year as an assistant at Cajon in 1996 before spending 1997-2002 as the quarterbacks coach at Upland. He was hired in 2002 to be the offensive coordinator at Los Osos, where he remained save the 2008 season during which he was the Chaffey College offensive coordinator.
Bechtel was the head coach-in-waiting at Los Osos behind Tom Martinez, the Grizzlies’ inaugural head coach.
“My phone was blowing up all day with people asking me why I would leave if I was the next guy at Los Osos,” Bechtel said. “It was a tough decision – I’ve had other opportunities since I’ve been at Los Osos – but I felt like this was the perfect fit with my philosophy. Tom (Martinez) is a young man. He’s got plenty of years left and I didn’t want to be the one to push him out.”