Will Blair have a team in 2012? With no head coach and very few players, we’re starting to wonder …

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
twitter.com/ChemicalAT

In six weeks, the Blair High School football team is scheduled to play its first game of the season. But for some players and their parents, it’s hard to imagine that day will ever come.

While most area teams are concluding their summer preparations, which include practices, passing tournaments and linemen competitions, Blair is a program without a head coach and the team, what’s left of it, has not had an organized practice since early June. The Vikings are scheduled to open the season on Aug. 24 against Hoover.

“Most of the parents have said ‘This is crazy. This is ridiculous. We’re going to pull our kids and take them somewhere else,’” said Carl McClain, whose son Logan was an all-Rio Hondo League defensive end last season as a junior and is still holding out hope something will happen.

“The main players, the majority of them, have left. They’re gone. If my son was in the 10th grade, that would be no problem for us to pick up and go somewhere else, but he’s a senior.

“I shouldn’t have to move my son out of the city of Pasadena so he can go somewhere else to play. He’s a senior. I shouldn’t have to pull money out of my pocket so my son can play somewhere. That’s not fair.”

Blair was coached last season by Gary Parks, who resigned this past offseason after four years at the school. Blair started last season with 22 players on its roster, but Logan McClain estimated that the team had just 12 players when the season ended.

After Parks left, the school began its search for a replacement in April, according to Pasadena Unified School District board president Renatta Cooper.

The school’s first choice was hired but quickly quit due to a lack of equipment and poor facilities, according to Cooper. The school was not able to hire its second choice, who turned the job down because no teaching position was offered. A third choice was preliminarily hired, but failed a background check and was let go.

“The position has been re-flown and it’s my understanding that they’re going to be interviewing again Thursday,” Cooper said on Wednesday. “What more can they do? They had to re-fly the position. It is unfortunate that they were not able to secure the services of a coach. They began the process early enough to have this taken care of.”

“I believe that everything that can be done is being done. I believe they started the process early enough to not have this problem. You would think out of your three top candidates, you would be to secure the services of any of them. Especially when you started in April.”

With no coach and no organized practices, the player pool has subsequently dwindled. In the meantime, parents like McClain are frustrated by the lack of action and answers from Blair principal Trudell Skinner and athletic director Saul Rico.

The closest Blair’s players have come to some form of practice is an open weight room that the school has provided for another program not related to football, according to Logan McClain. So instead, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound college prospect has mostly worked out at home.

Another problem standing in Blair’s way is that even when a new football coach is hired, it’s questionable that there will be enough players to field a starting 11. Logan McClain estimates through his own correspondence with classmates that only eight players remain in the program. Blair will also welcome in a new freshmen class later this summer, but getting those players ready for any level of football competition will be an uphill battle even if a coach is named soon.

The CIF-Southern Section requires teams to have 14 practices before it plays its first game. Each individual student must have had at least 10 practices before being allowed to compete in a game.

With time running out, Blair needs to act fast in getting both a coach and enough players to field a varsity football team. Despite the concerns of many, school officials aren’t ready to pull the plug on the season.

“I’m confident that they’re doing the best they can,” Cooper said. “Are they in danger of forfeiting their games and not having a team? I spoke to the principal and she didn’t seem to feel that. She didn’t express that level of concern. She feels that they’re going to get this taken care of and I’m going to take her opinion.”

Meanwhile, the McClains are left to wonder whether they should trust the school or scramble and figure out Plan B before it’s too late.

“He wants to play at Blair,” Carl McClain said of his son. “He says ‘Dad, I want to finish what I started’ and that’s understandable. He says ‘Dad I want to graduate with the kids I went to junior high school with’.

“But I told him that if you want to play football and this is what you want to do, you may have to give all that up and go somewhere else.”

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  • sikolec

    Best of luck to Blair. I would hate to see them not field a team for 2012. Those kids played their hearts out last season with so few players.

  • Viking Dad

    April? Coach Parks was gone before the christmas break. I checked my son out immediately after and I’am glad I did. Mr. McClain get your son out NOW. Call cif or hope they cancel the season so your son can move without restriction.

  • bigfatfan

    are any of your readers surprised by this turn of events? of course not. just put that program out of its misery right now. put it down like a horse with a broken leg. we (the other teams in the RHL) have been dealing with this erroding situation for several years. The time is now for Blair to just end their football program so that the rest of the teams in the RHL can go about their business and schedule replacement games. i know its too late for the 2012 season, this whole issue should have been resolved long ago, but at least this season we will all get a “bye” on the season which will only be nine games instead of 10.

  • http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org PASHOFPAL

    Embarrassing, simply put.

    It’s almost as if the powers that be at Blair want to do away with its athletic program.

    Parents – hold them accountable. They have an obligation to its student body i.e. your kids.

    Fight for what’s right!

    Laurence Todd
    President
    http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org

  • MonroviaFan

    The sad part is I heard that there was a coach training them and willing to take the steering wheel of the program immediately after the season ended, and the administration wanted nothing to do with him. How do you turn away someone who wants to help the children in a situation the NO legitimate coach would dare step in? Crazy and udder ridiculous. Go Wildcats!

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/paspreps/2012/07/will-blair-have-a-team-in-2012.html woanelly

    It is not only the coach, its the atmosphere surrounding Pasadena kids or parents who go elsewhere; forget your local schools. It is also a burden for any coach knowing that there is very little money to keep a team running year in and year out, especially when the numbers are down. There are no more glory days for Blair football and that is a tragedy, sorry kids but your teammates are at Alemany and Cathedral! Pasadena parents this is the RESULTS WE LOSE!!!! Don’t tell me its the education, Blair has wonderful programs.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/sgvfootball Aram

    Blair won the league title in 2007. That’s not too long ago. Think about that before you say the program should just go away. All kids should have the opportunity to play football at whatever school they attend. You lose football, you might as well flush all school pride down the drain. Think cheerleaders, band, homecoming.

    Then think about the history of Blair football. This should make everyone sick.

  • curious

    “A third choice was preliminarily hired, but failed a background check and was let go.”

    Wonder if it was Mooney

  • http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org PASHOFPAL

    Truth be told, the problems at Blair, as correctly pointed out by Aram, is a pride. But it’s not only at Blair – the same could be said for Muir, PHS and Marshall. All, over the years, have suffered in team spirit. Their alumni’s have walked the champion podium in nearly every sport in the world i.e. Olympics, NBA, NFL, MLB – you name it, someone from Pasadena has done it. But yet, we have kids, and their parents (many who attend these very schools), transferring to schools with no legacies or alumni that come close to those from the City of Roses. I know, I champion their accomplishments every chance I get.

    Where is that pride today? Where is the pride that says Blair, or any high school in Pasadena, can’t fail? Where are the alumnis who are proud to be Vikings – to wear their green and gold? Your fellow Vikings need help – TODAY!

    It’s a sad day – week in Pasadena.

    Laurence Todd
    President
    http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org

  • usc

    Sean Smith is a DB in the NFL for Miami and class of 2004 from Blair, i believe. Hopefully, someone will tell him and he can donate $

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/sgvfootball Aram

    I did tell him about it and I doubt he’s gonna open his wallet if he refused to comment about it.

    And therein lies part of the problem. Sean Smith had a chance as a big-name athlete to say something that might further light a fire under the powers that be and declined to do so.

  • 81

    So much for remembering where you came from or giving back to your community.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/paspreps/2012/07/will-blair-have-a-team-in-2012.html woanelly

    It is almost over people, why don’t we call it good now because the exodus is in full effect. Alemany, Cathedral, Oaks C and C oaks, and others have parted the Red Sea and we have let our people go. What a joke the community of Pasadena and Altadena have become along with the alumni of all schools. The numbers with the Panthers are way down with the Ponies and Trojans doing well, The latter two being feeder programs for the above mentioned schools. I hate to harp on this subject but it is just out of control. 3 0f 4 HS’s have great API’s and many AP courses, its just we are sell outs and lack pride in anything. Thanks once again parents for doing a good job as maids and butlers. Good Luck Blair Vikings and keep sending your kids to college

  • shutitdown

    Dont be too surprised by the event’s, YES the school district is purposely trying to shut down the football program.THAT’S A NO BRAINER.

    Wake up, if someone would walk into your house every other day and remove furniture or food you would be upset, or withdraw 40.00 from your bank account every few days you would not stand for it.

    It’s a matter of business, plain and simple, the community does not care about how the region see’s them so they “the community” in turn allow the admin’s to ruin the sport’s program’s, for thier own purpose.

    The last coach who was there for a few season’s was a real Knucklehead, who allowed this man in, that person should be fired.

    If a community, group of parent’s, Alum, etc has no self pride then why should some administrator care what happens to the sport’s program.

    If this were Amat, Alemany, Loyola, Santa Margarita, the entire school population would be in an uproar, why not in this area.

    I dont care who played in the NFL, or who went to USC, UCLA, or where ever, that has nothing to do with this issue, the community is whats being exposed here.

    The bottom line is three years ago Rancho Santa Margarita was 3-7, then they got serious got a winning coach, backed him 100% and now tops in the state and nation, and that coach did not play in the NFL and those kids will more than likely not play in the NFL.

    What’s the difference, community PRIDE.I have an Idea shut down the district, and allow Alemany to run Blair high, we can call it Alemany east region, they will turn out a better program and for a lot less money, then allow St francis to run Muir we can call it St francis #2, the title’s will add up immediately, I have a better one, remove one admin at the district, take his salary go out hire the best coach and staff let them run the show, and Blair, Muir, PHS, and Marshall would have numerous title’s in their division’s.

    TO ALL THE FAMILIES IN THIS REGION, THEY WILL DO TO YOU WHAT YOU ALLOW, IT’S NOT THE DISTRICT’S OR THE SCHOOL’S FAULT. DEMAND MORE, DEMAND SOMETHING BETTER, SHOW YOUR KIDS HOW TO FIX THINGS, NOT HOW TO BLAME SOMEONE ELSE AND THEN RUN AWAY.IT’S YOUR DISTRICT AND YOUR SPORT’S PROGRAM. THE ADMIN’S WORK FOR YOU THE COMMUNITY. “WAKE UP”

  • bigfatfan

    shutitdown: Amen, thanks for adding your words of wisdom. At south pasadena, the football parents banded together and formed a football booster club. we pressured the AD and principal to make changes to the lackluster football program. it took a couple of years, but we got our desired results. School administrators work for us, the parents! we need to keep the pressure on them to give us the programs we want for our kids at our schools. in this era of budget crises, after school sports programs will be the easy cuts if the parents dont stand up and demand more respect for these program. Clearly, the Blair parents have not done this successfully.

  • shutitdown

    Great to see that someone else is on this blog, but the fact that there is not over 100 comment’s here on this issue really shows where the community places this.

    Too many good people out there have been turned off by these mental midgets who run the area school’s, that they just give up or transfer to a private school.

    I think too many people spend to much time worrying about saving the freakin planet or other places in the world while their own backyard is going to hell

    60% of the world’s population live in the continent of Asia, 20% live in Europe, 20% live in Africa, while only 5% live in North America, now tell me where should our attention be focused.

    I am waiting for this great community to wake up and change the culture of mediocrity to one of success and pride.

    It start’s with our school’s our youth and our sport’s program’s we should pack the next school district meeting and demand that the clown’s who are responcible for this debacle that is called Blair high be removed and then bring in the best in the state that can be found to run the school and sport’s program’s.

    If not then privatize the entire district, send it out to bid, find out what this circus is costing the taxpayer’s and then allow others to bid on both cash saving’s as well as better enrollment and student result’s. Make Admin’s accountable for their failure’s.

    I guarantee the result’s will be tremendous, and the sport’s in our school’s would excell throughout the state.

  • viking_fan

    it’s a catch 22 in my opinion. we can’t get kids out to play because we have such a losing reputation. we lose a lot because we can’t get the kids out so we can field a decent size team. as a football volunteer (with no child playing), i watched parental support diminish year by year as players graduated. it’s hard to get the kids to commit 100% if we can’t get the same support from the parents.

  • 2012 Grad

    bigfatfan,

    Maybe you should look at your program a little better. tiger football is not so far behind. when your coach is losing players and getting rid of good coaches. maybe he wasn’t the right guy for the job. and with problems with players. it doesn’t good.

  • bigfatfan

    2012 Grad: I beg to differ. we have about 50 frosh kids at summer football, largest group in years. I suggest that the disgruntled kids grow some thicker skin and just grow up and quit bitching about the HC and play football. from what I can see, we lost a few coaches from the previous HC, but we have more than made up for that with the addition of a strong DC, and a former school grad and D1 QB coming back to tutor the QBs.

  • Viking4Life

    The Point is that school really dropped the ball. From my sources they had a assistant from the last regime in place that had 60 kids ready and willing to play and they turned him down because of his youth and lack of coaching experience.

  • PurdueAlum05

    2012 Grad,

    You obviously don’t know much about football. To say that SP football is not to far behind Blair football is a complete joke. We can at least field teams at all 3 levels, we have our own home field (turf) and weight room, we have a solid coaching staff and parents who are committed, we finished in third place last year with a sophmore qb and a heavily junior orientated team, we’re scheduling tougher opponents, and we have an incoming freshmen class with 50 plus players. You need to get your facts straight before you make ludacris comments.

  • 6power

    It really was not that long ago (2007) when Tip Sanders and a very speedy and aggressive Viking defense surprised most everyone in the RHL and beyond, beating TC (22-16)and two time CIF champ (now) Monrovia and winning the RHL title.
    That team was scattered with a few gifted athletes, a couple big kids and Blair’s usual balance of semi-clueless freshman who are needed to populate a roster and qualify for league play. That break down of personnel in fact has been Blair’s game face for many years. Unbalanced, unpredictable, unprepared but with sprinkling of explosive or real strong youngsters – all in need of some real leadership.
    Add Tip’s boost of rebellion, confidence and swagger and suddenly you have a glimpse of what even minor cohesion and self belief can do…kids feel and sense they can win…something every underdog, overmatched kid or program has got to have to eventually break from the endless cellar of doom.
    Maybe it is the parents, the schol district, maybe the community, possibly a financial end run, maybe the forerunner of the demise of local prep football altogether …I really don’t know. Blair grandstands are notoriously semi-empty on Friday nights…especially on away games.
    However, their have been great parents and supporters of the Vikes, I’ve met and talked with a bunch of them over the years. I disagree with those who say this is a valueless football program. I live in Pasadena and saw the local pride when Blair had their breakout year. Their premature playoff death did not matter – it was more the climbing out of the dark hole they had dug for themselves.
    I hope Blair keeps their program. They need a 10 year commitment from some hard -nosed, fundamental coach with a serious thick skin and unlimited drive…basically a madman, with a narrow laser focus, deaf to any and all screaming bullshit around him.
    Good luck Blair parents and kids.

  • 2012grad

    05 and BBF

    I will school you later on what you don’t know.
    Big lost QB left because of coach and best RB in program left. More to come.

  • 2012Grad

    PurdueAlam05 and Bigfatfan

    Maybe you two should get your facts straight.Starting QB left because of coach.Best RB in program gone to. lots of guys quitting because of coach. Yes there 50 on frosh but frosh always get good #. My class had 40. they average 40-45. Last years team had 35 and 15 quit because the coaches where idiots.Coach K brought them in. And got rid of a very good young coach P who led frosh team the year before to a 6-4 reacord. And they beat monrovia. Did you know they have the worst # in a very long time on JV and V this year. For both teams they have 35. 7 to 10 on jv. why is that? Even are last coach with his bad records never had # like that. We still wanted to play. Coach R left and he got rid of coach B his best offense coach. And he telling parents and players that coach B didnt want to come back. He also has a lot of first to second year coaches out there. I heard this so call DC is just like coach sal and is friends with him. And if you dont know who sal is his teams went 1-19 as frosh coach. This D one QB that was helping only came out a hand full of time to work with A QB thats not there anymore. And no i am not a disgruntled kid I play alot. If you want i can teach you the game.One last thing coach has already problems with players and parents going to principle. Maybe he shouldnt go off on player in front of the whole team and staff saying things i wont repeat here. If you want me to teach you the game I will be on the 50 this year to school you two.

  • 6power

    2012 Grad

    Unfortunately you are right in the middle of big pile of crap….
    Your parents and the parents of other Blair kids should be down on campus, in the AD’s and Principal’s office and at the PUSD fighting this fight as long as it takes to make things right ….while you should be left to play football.
    Do what is right for you…work hard and stay on track and don’t get caught up in this because it will ruin your senior season.
    Good luck this year……