La Salle’s Antoine Peterson has been fired as the Lancers’ head football coach after four seasons.
Peterson, who went 7-34 in his tenure, was fired a week after the Lancers’ season ended in a postgame brawl following a 29-12 loss to Cantwell Sacred Heart.
La Salle finished 1-9, with its lone win over Mary Star of the Sea, 49-20.
Peterson assembled a top coaching staff that included former NFL player Dwight Hicks and former USC running back Shawn Walters.
“These guys were there for me,” Peterson said of his staff. “Dwight Hicks, former San Francisco 49er, said he was only here for me, he wanted to give back. The team finished recording nine interceptions, and that’s the sad thing. We didn’t have a chance to finish with the senior class.”
La Salle Athletic Director Anthony Harris, who was offensive coordinator upon his arrival as athletic director and through the first two games before giving up the position, said the program needed a change.
“We are going in a different direction,” he said. “Coming in here I really wanted coach Peterson to be successful. I didn’t have an opportunity to overlook the program in the last four years in his time as head coach.
“I knew our program was struggling and I was hoping to get it turned around. It didn’t happen.”
Peterson felt the coaching staff and team, which lost three games by less than nine points or less, were jelling.
“There were some bright spots,” he said. “There were a lot of close games in the season. When Anthony Harris stepped down as offensive coordinator we didn’t catch our stride until maybe (Week 6). This team will return 25 seniors and whoever takes my place will have a hell of a team ready to go.”
The decision proved difficult for Harris, who has known Peterson since the sixth grade at Altadena Elementary School. They played football under legendary coach Jim Brownfield at Muir where Peterson later was part of Brownfield’s staff.
“It was extremely difficult because it’s somebody that I know and care for tremendously,” Harris said. “As an athletic director you have to make some tough decisions. The decision wasn’t all mine, but you’re accurate I did have some input in that.
“Antoine is such a tremendous human being. He’s really well-liked on campus, by his players and his colleagues.”
Harris said the vacancy has drawn more than 60 resumes and he’ll continue to accept applications through Dec. 9, at which point he’ll narrow down the list and name a new football coach by the first week of January “so we can get the kids on board with the offseason program with their new coach.”
Harris would like the new coach to teach at the school, although it’s not a requirement.
“That’s the way it’s been listed,” he said. “If we can find someone that doesn’t need teaching, fine. But ideally we’d love to have a head football coach that is on campus 100 percent of the time.”
Peterson said he hopes to remain a physical education teacher at La Salle.
“I hope to continue on here,” he said. “I’ve been here for over 10 years and developed a relationship, not only with the football players but with the student body as well. This has been home for me.”