Bray back at Colton

Common sense finally washed over the Colton Joint Unified School District at their school board meeting Thursday night, as the CJUSD school board unanimously approved the rehiring of CIF championship coach Rick Bray by a 7-0 count to end what has been a sometimes ugly political soap opera.

“I’m just glad to be back to work,” an emotionally relieved Bray said after the vote was passed. “We are here for the kids and I can’t wait to be their coach again.”

36 hours ago, it looked as if Bray – who led the Yellowjackets to their first CIF-SS title in 32 years in his first season as head coach this fall – might be out of luck. Legendary coach Don Markham, a teacher at Colton High and owner of 309 career wins, was recommended for approval by the board as he filled the qualifications of the Rialto Rule, which gives preference to certificated teachers over walk-on coaches like Bray, who is a security officer at CHS.

But Markham, who was hired for the Compton job two months ago, had a change of heart Wednesday night and withdrew his name Thursday morning after Compton was able to give him a full-time teaching position.

“I applied for the Colton job because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get a job at Compton,” said Markham, who will be a full-time weightlifting teacher. “But they came through and after thinking about it, I decided to go with Compton. Colton doesn’t really need me and Compton really made me feel that they wanted me.”

Several players, parents and members of the community showed up in support of Bray, although it wasn’t unanimous. The parents of outgoing senior Tyler Ervin criticized Bray in the open discussion part of the meeting for not honoring their son with a plaque at the awards banquet and for not helping him with recruiting, causing assistant coach and Bray’s son, B.J. Bray, to retort angrily.

An emotional B.J. Bray was still stung by the process but happy that his dad was still in charge of the Colton program.

“We do a great thing here and we do it all for the kids,” Bray said. “This isn’t about winning football games. It’s about creating doctors, lawyers, businessmen. The amount of kids going to college in this area is low and we have done everything we can to help every kid in our program get to that point. And we are going to keep doing that until they force us out.”

Look for more on this story in tomorrow’s Sun.

Colton school board to approve Markham as head coach

Former Bloomington and Rialto head coach Don Markham will be recommended to the Colton Joint Unified School District as the next coach of the Colton football team at Thursday’s CJUSD school board meeting according the CJUSD agenda released Tuesday.

Markham, who is a teacher at Colton High School, was hired as Compton High School’s head coach in the offseason. His recommendation for the job, which was held by Rick Bray last year, puts the district in accordance with the Rialto Rule, which gives hiring preference to certificated teachers. According to Colton athletic director Harold Strauss, who otherwise refused comment, the only qualification for applying for the job was previous coaching experience, something that the 71-year-old Markham has plenty of with 309 career victories.

Markham’s last coaching at the high school level came in 2007, when he led Bloomington to a 6-5 record. He coached at American Sports University before being hired by Rialto in January 2010. He never coached a game with the Knights, resigning in April 2010 amid allegations of mistreatment of players.

Bray, a security officer at Colton High School and longtime assistant before taking over the head job last year, led the Yellowjackets to their first CIF-SS title since 1978, winning the Central Division with a 17-7 victory over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde in December. Bray was also named the all-Sun Coach of the Year.

Markham needs a simple majority vote — at least four votes out of seven — to be approved by the school board. Bray, who was recommended to the school board at the last board meeting April 21 but rejected due to Rialto Rule considerations, has reapplied for the position and will almost certainly have plenty of support at Thursday’s meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at the school district office.

Bray out as Colton football coach

In possibly the most surprising phone call I have received in my four-plus years of covering sports for the Sun, Colton football coach Rick Bray has indicated that he will not be the Colton High School football coach for the 2011 season after the Colton Joint Unified School District’s school board decided to fly the position outside of the district at last night’s meeting.

“I applied for the job, as I have to do every year, and the school board last night decided to fly the job outside of the district,” Bray said. “I’m tired of the fighting and the lack of loyalty and I just don’t want to have to deal with it any longer.”

Being a campus security officer instead of a certificated teacher, Bray knew he had to reapply for the job every year due to the Rialto Rule, which states that an open position must be flown to certificated teachers within the school district before they can hire teachers or other personnel from outside of it. Bray knew that coming in, but didn’t expect the district to open up the job after no other in-district teacher applied and after the Yellowjackets won their first CIF-SS title since 1978.

“I understand that this was going to a yearly thing, having to reapply, because I am not a teacher, but once I saw that no teachers within the school district applied, I felt I was Ok,” Bray said. “It’s definitely a shock right now and I have a good idea of where it’s coming from, but I don’t want to name names.

“As loyal as myself and my staff have been, having the team in good academic standing, getting four kids scholarships to college, not to mention winning a championship, this is all a slap in the face. I’m done – they can find somebody else because apparently my staff and I didn’t do everything they wanted.

“Right now it’s more anger than anything else. It’s my way of letting people know that I’m tired of the fighting. I had to apply three separate times for this position last year because they kept adopting new rules. I’m tired of fighting it. We worked our butts off, our kids have worked their butts off in the classroom and on the field and our parents have been great. I thought we did the right thing, but I guess it wasn’t good enough.”

Having been born and raised in Colton and been an assistant for the Yellowjackets from 1985-2009 – minus a four-year hiatus – before taking the head coaching job from Harold Strauss, Bray is admittedly devastated with today’s news and can’t imagine the possiblity of going to coach for another school.

“I’m a Colton guy and I love this job,” Bray said. “I was born and raised here and have been coaching at Colton since 1985. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”