Former D-Ranch coach Tommy Leach likely to be named new head coach at Etiwanda …

Former Diamond Ranch coach Tommy Leach, famous for inflating the Panthers schedule before leaving for Chaparral, is likely to be named the next head coach at Etiwanda, according to both the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Los Angeles Times.

Leach left D-Ranch for Chaparral after the 2005 season and was replaced by current head man Roddy Layton. In Layton’s first season, D-Ranch traversed a schedule set up by Leach that included games against Oaks Christian, Servite and Edison. Layton embraced the challenge publicly, but gradually lightened things up.

Meanwhile, Leach had immediate success at Chaparral.

Aram’s take: So why does this matter to you? OK, I tell you why. First off, now that it appears likely Leach will get the Etiwanda job, the coaches in this area who went for it (you know who you are and I don’t blame you a bit) now know they didn’t get it. So, they can now start planning their future at their current school. Also, Etiwanda is a powerhouse waiting to happen. I saw the Eagles win the Claremont Tournament (passing league) this past summer and was floored by the talent they have on hand. FLOORED. Looked like they had 10 Chris Gilchrists out there. Anywho, as we all saw in this year’s Inland Division playoffs (and the Baseline League for that matter), having talent means squat if you don’t have coaching. And having coaching means squat if you don’t have talent. And having good skill players means squat if you don’t have line play. And having good line play means squat if you don’t have good skill players. Basically, you need it all. Leach is a very good coach and he’s a good bet to put it all together at Etiwanda, which means the Sierra League better get ready for another hurdle to overcome it’s gonna do some damage in the postseason. If you need me, I’ll either be at the gym or the gun club.

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Concerned reactions abound after rash of coaching resignations … Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

Steve Bogan steps down in the prime of his career after winning four CIF titles at South Hills.

A recent rash of resignations by several area high school football coaches has rocked the local landscape this week and in its wake left many fans, players and coaches scratching their heads in disbelief.

Since the 2011 football season ended, there have been seven resignations by area varsity football head coaches. This week alone, six coaches announced their decisions to step away from their posts and several of them well-known names in charge of some the Valley’s top programs. More troubling still is that there could be more on their way out.

So far, the tally includes Steve Bogan (South Hills), Matt Koffler (Rosemead), Darryl Thomas (Covina), James Wilson (Mountain View), Todd Quinsey (Glendora), Eric Podley (Bonita) and Bob Burt (Wilson).

“No, quite simply no,” said longtime Charter Oak head coach Lou Farrar when asked if he’d ever witnessed this many resignations at one time during his six decades as a coach in the area. “It concerns me because I know how important athletics are to overall school climate. But you have to understand where they’re coming from. I really understand why these guys are doing what they’re doing.”

The aftermath of the the resignations has led many people to express concern that there is a singular common denominator that led each coach to his decision. That doesn’t appear to be the case, however.

The desire to spend more time with family played a big role for some. Others were simply burned out. In Burt’s case, he was a one-year caretaker for a Wilson program that wanted stability and a well-respected veteran to groom what it hopes will be a long-term solution at head coach.

For Quinsey, the lack of a full-time job at Glendora forced him to make a decision for the betterment of his family. For Podley, who doubles as Bonita’s athletic director, the opportunity to turn the program over to a fledgling coach while remaining on staff as offensive coordinator was too good to pass up.

And yet despite all the reasons given for the glut of departures, a myriad of issues weighing on coaches have come to the forefront and had better be addressed or more offseasons like the current one are likely to follow.

In some cases, the reasons given for their decision to resign were the best-sounding way out after a culmination of a broad spectrum of problems pushed the coaches too far.

Concerns expressed to the Tribune by current and recently resigned coaches ranged from a perceived lack of appreciation from school administrators to budget cuts to taking anonymous criticism at various social media venues, including this newspaper’s popular prep sports blogs, to the growing duties of managing what’s become a year-around program all while dealing with oft-crazed parents.

“Matt Koffler is not burned out on football,” Arroyo coach Jim Singiser said. “He’s burned out on everything it takes to get to Friday night. I’m not putting words in any of these guys’ mouths. They can all speak for themselves. But the strain is what it takes just to get to Friday nights. And we all love Friday night. We all love being at practice and breaking down films and being with the other coaches and coaching up the kids, but it’s the other stuff that’s being magnified.

“So much of coaching today is about just getting to Friday night. With budgets, grades and parents, it’s about how hard it’s becoming to get your team to Friday night.”

Some have speculated that the 2008 elimination of the CIF association rule has played a major role in coaches burning out early now that sports like football can practice for nearly the entire calendar year. It should be noted that few if any of the coaches who resigned this offseason had altered their annual preparation schedule from what it was before the association rule was abolished. Most still had their teams lift weights in the winter, held spring practice in May, hit the passing tournament circuit during summer and started fall practice on August. But even that is quite a load for a coach to manage on a stipend that averaged between $2,000-3,500 per year.

This week’s slew of resignations has caught the attention CIF, but as Southern Section Director Information Thom Simmons explained it, there’s really not much that his organization can do other than enforce the rules that the member schools implement and express gratitude to the coaches who have decided to resign.

“If the competitiveness at the high school level in Southern California is causing coaches to burn out said, then I understand that,” Simmons said. “It’s a very competitive place to be a coach and the expectations are high. But there’s nothing that we in this office can do to alleviate that.

“If schools want to put a rule in place that says that offseason practices can no longer occur, then that’s going to be a decision for the schools to make and we can enforce it. But we can’t weigh into that simply because it’s not our decision to make.”

Due to the state’s economic crisis, coaches have taken on the added burden of having to hold more and more fundraisers in order to compensate for budget cuts. It’s become yet another in a long line of duties for coaches that gets amplified.

“The costs are going up, so now where I used to have to do two fundraisers, now I have to do eight or 10,” Singiser said. “I was washing cars on July 2. I’m 43-years-old and I have a wife and two kids, and I’m having to wash cars from 8 a.m. til 3 p.m. just to buy helmets. It’s not all on the administration. It’s not all on the parents. It’s the state of where everything is at right now.”

Although most coaches are quick to explain they are not in the business to make money, several told this newspaper that they are looking for compensation in other ways. Specifically, appreciation from administrators who have put an increased focus on attendance numbers and test scores. The appreciation, according to one local coach interviewed for this story, could be as simple as a pat on the back.

Managing coaches during such difficult times can be tough for administrators. Perhaps nobody does a better job of it locally than Charter Oak principal Kathie Wiard, who was once a softball and basketball coach.

“I’m definitely saddened,” Wiard said of this week’s events. “They’re all great guys and coaching is such a big part of what we do in our schools and these guys are great role models for our kids. To see them be so burned out that they have to make these choices, I just feel bad. It’s definitely a challenge for principals.

“My guess is that the principals really do (appreciate the coaches), but their time is busy like everybody else. We’re very fortunate at Charter Oak because we believe athletics are a very integral part of our school and community. I’m sure the other principals do, too.”

Wiard and several coaches mentioned the toll social media has taken on coaches, who are now open to criticism and second guessing from faceless entities. The explosion of Facebook, Twitter and blogs have added another dimension that didn’t exist as little as 10 years ago.

“I think the blogs kill us,” said Damien coach Greg Gano, who is in his fourth decade as an area coach. “People can email the principals without signing their name. And guess who’s got to answer to them, the coaches. I’m just not a blog guy. I think it does some good things, but it rips coaches. It’s an open invitation to rip coaches and people get tired of getting ripped.”

Even if this week’s resignations are more coincidence than a common theme, it’s very obvious that coaches are under burdens and pressures never seen before at any point in history. Some have been pushed to the brink and decided that it’s just not worth it. Others legitimately have a desire to spend more time with their family.

No matter the reason, the Valley has seen several stalwarts of the coaching profession walk away and that’s led to a lot of somber reactions from just about everyone.

“Coach Bogan was on the interview panel when I was hired and he’s had a large impact on me,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “Regardless of who won (when we played), and they won more than we did, he was always really gracious and a good guy. It kind of puts things in perspective even though things are going really well right now at West Covina.

“The coaches who coach 30-40 years, you don’t see a lot of them anymore. It’s just a lot different than it used to be 20-30 years ago. There’s a just a lot more to it. It’s tough on a family and tough on guys. I can see where you get a lot of burn out.”

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Mountain View coach James Wilson resigns … the story is a pretty good read …

Mountain View High School football coach James Wilson resigned earlier this week after seven seasons at the school.

Wilson, who played defensive line on Azusa Pacific University’s 1998 NAIA championship team, was 20-47 in seven seasons.

“It just kind of felt right,” Wilson said. “It’s been seven years. I was struggling with it when the season ended. It just kind of became a strain. I moved to Anaheim two years ago and with the drive and my kids getting older, it just felt like the right time.”

Mountain View has long been one of the Valley’s under-performing programs, but under the energetic Wilson the Vikings had started to show signs of competitiveness. In 2010, Wilson installed the Wing-T offense and Mountain View went 5-5. The Vikings took a step back this year, going 3-7, but much of that could be attributed to youth.

Mountain View’s numbers in terms of player turnout had also seen a steady rise under Wilson. The Vikings reportedly have 91 players in the program across all levels.

“I’m proud of where the program’s at and where I’m leaving it,” Wilson said. “Leaving the kids, that was the hardest part. Especially with the team we have coming back next year. We have a lot of kids returning. I just think it’s time for someone else to take the baton and lead the Vikings into the future.

“Some of the kids were real upset and some of them understood. Kids are kids, and I can understand why some of them were upset. It’s hard for them to wrap their heads around the fact that coaches have a personal life. But I understand that.

After Wilson graduated from APU in 2000, he joined former Mountain View coach Frank Alonzo’s staff as an assistant. After three seasons, he was named head coach. But back then, just fielding a team, numbers-wise, at Mountain View was a difficult task.

In addition to low player turnout in his early years, Wilson had to basically start from scratch with what players did show up because for many of them high school was their first try at football.

“I tell people all the time that being the head coach at Mountain View High School was probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” Wilson said. “I’ve been a part of football my whole life. I grew up in a small town (Kingsburg, Ca.) where it’s all about football. I played as a little kid, I played in high school, junior college and at Azusa Pacific. And then you come to a school like Mountain View where, to be honest, football wasn’t even respected. Football players were looked down upon when I took over the job.

“What I’m really proud of is that I feel like there was a culture change. Football players are respected now. When I took over the program, I believe we had 19 guys on varsity. I don’t think we even fielded a junior varsity team. The main thing I’m proud of is where we started and where we’re at now. Granted, the record isn’t where I wanted it to be. We wanted to win every game.”

Wilson will remain a physical education teacher at the school and has not ruled out a return to coaching in the future. The school will fly the position.

Aram’s take: If you look at the progress Mountain View made under Wilson, it’s hard not to be impressed. He did a great job of improving the program’s numbers and simplifying the game for a bunch of kids hadn’t played it before. Sure, the Vikes struggled for wins in most years, but coaching sometimes runs deeper than that. Wilson did a great job and was always enthusiastic about a program that not many people would get excited about.

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Schurr coach Ben Negrete resigns after four seasons (three league championships) …

Schurr High School football varsity head coach Ben Negrete became the latest area coach to call it quits on Wednesday afternoon.

Negrete, who was the Spartans head coach for four years and won three Almont League championships in that time, has decided to take an early retirement from teaching and has resigned his post as head coach, too.

“It was a very juicy incentive for us veteran teachers and it was just too good to pass up,” said Negrete, who is 63. “It’s obviously something I love doing. I’ve been doing it all my life. It was a very difficult decision, but it’s been about 33 years in coaching, so I’m about ready.”

Negrete took over in 2008 for Elvin Dick, who led the Spartans to a CIF championship in 2006. Schurr went 26-18-2 under Negrete and made the postseason in three of his four seasons. The Spartans went 3-7 this past season and missed the playoffs.

Beside Schurr, Negrete also had coaching stops at Upland and Claremont College. The school has begun the process of finding a new coach. Negrete hopes it will be somebody from his staff.

Negrete’s best season at Schurr was 2009 when the team went 9-2-1 and swept the Almont League. Schurr then opened the Southeast Division playoffs with a win over El Rancho and suffered a 33-27 loss to Diamond Ranch in the quarterfinals.

“There’s a million things I’m going to miss,” Negrete said. “The day-to-day contact with my assistant coaches and the players, the relationships you develop over a period of time and the excitement of Friday night football and accomplishing difficult goals that you set up for your program, I’m going to miss those things a lot.”

Negrete will use his time off to care for his aging father. He did not a rule out a return to coaching, however.

“I love coaching football, and who knows, I may get into again after a little break,” Negrete said. “Coaching, itself, never wears me out. I could coach forever.”

Aram’s take: Add another one to the pile. But I will say that Negrete’s departure and the reason why is a bit different from the others. It just so happens to coincide with them. Negrete did a good job keeping Schurr one of the better programs around. Three league titles in four is not too shabby.

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Rosemead coach Matt Koffler resigns, Paramo the front runner to take over …

Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler announced Wednesday night during his team’s banquet that he has resigned after 10 seasons combined at the school.

Koffler led the Panthers to four Mission Valley League championships, a runner-up finish in the CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division in 2008 and a semifinals appearance in the Division VII playoffs in 2001.

Koffler was a star quarterback at Rosemead, graduating in 1992 and earning a scholarship to play at USC where he still owns the record for the longest touchdown pass in Trojans history — 97 yards vs. Illinois in 1996.

Defensive coordinator Marc Paramo, a longtime member of Koffler’s staff, is expected to be the school’s next head coach after the position is flown.

Aram’s take: If ever there was a coach who fit his program more in terms of understanding the kids and community, I haven’t seen him. Koffler was Rosemead. He had a great, great run and was one of my all-time favorites to interview and work with.

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Damien makes a change at defensive coordinator …

Damien head coach Greg Gano has let go of longtime sidekick and defensive coordinator Lee Fair and replaced him with John Carroll.

Fair had been Gano’s defensive coordinator for several years, dating back to Gano’s successful run at Los Altos. Carroll has previously been Damien’s defensive coordinator.

Gano is also reportedly looking for an offensive line and possible a quarterback coach.

Aram’s take:
Fair took his share of criticism after Sparty had a costly breakdown in the final seconds in its loss to Chino Hills. Let us not forget, though, that Fair had a heckuva career and had orchestrated some monster defenses in his day. Carroll is the son of Damien AD Tom Carroll, who is a big fan of these blogs (not really). Anyway, word is the kids really like Carroll and his history with Damien ought to come in handy. As a side note, I truly hope Damien is more visible on the passing circuit this summer. I wanna see Sparty throw against CO, Amat, Monrovia and so on. They have the QB and skills to do it, so let’s do it!

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Bonita coach Eric Podley resigns, assistant coach Adrian Medrano takes over … but there’s a twist …

Bonita High School football head coach Eric Podley resigned on Monday, with the school naming 27-year-old special teams coordinator Adrian Medrano as his replacement.

Podley, who was head coach at Bonita for 12 years and won two league titles and coached the Bearcats to the 2010 CIF-SS Southeast Division championship game, will remain on the varsity staff as offensive coordinator under Medrano. Longtime defensive coordinator Ray Medina was also retained.

“The workload of being a full-time classroom teacher, athletic director and head coach seemed like it was expanding each year and something had to give at some point, and so I decided the head coach football job would be the one to go,” Podley said. “It was something I definitely thought about it, especially last year when I got so sick. An illness like that can make you reassess some of your priorities in life.”

Podley struggled through the ’10 season with an infection in his back that caused him limited mobility and ultimately led to surgery soon after the season ended. He was back at full strength this season and guided a young Bonita team to the playoffs for the ninth time in his 12 years. Of the three times Bonita missed the postseason under Podley, two of them came due to being on the short end of coin flips.

Podley and Medina groomed Medrano to become head coach since his arrival at Bonita four years ago. Medrano was previously an assistant coach at San Dimas.

“When we brought him over from San Dimas, that was the plan that he was going to be the next guy,” Podley said. “He’s at a spot now where he was either going to move up or we were going to have to push him out the door to become the head coach somewhere else.”

Medrano will enjoy the luxury of a staff that remains intact with only the roles changing. But still, he knows that the pressure will be on him to prove he can handle the challenge of leading one of the area’s better programs at such a young age.

“It’s a big opportunity and some big shoes to fill,” Medrano said. “There’s no other place I’d rather be right now than Bonita. I’m excited about it. It’s a program with rich tradition and expects to win. That’s the kind of place I want to be.

“The first thing I wanted to take over was the coaching staff. I’m fortunate enough to not only have Podley back, but the entire coaching staff. It’s definitely a big challenge and I’m confident I can step up to the challenge. The game of football has been part of my life since I was a little kid. I’ve surrounded myself with people who know the game. And every single day, I’m trying to learn something. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Aram’s take: As you’ll recall, I reported last spring that Podley was thinking about stepping down then … that he may have been angling to become to offensive coordinator at Glendora under then-coach Todd Quinsey. He was very close to doing just that, so this move shouldn’t surprise you. The great news for Bonita fans is that the staff remains the same with a couple people simply wearing new hats. Medrano is a football junkie. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. He’s young and that’s always dangerous, but he’s been mentored well and has done a great job so far … think back to the kickoffs in the ’10 Southeast Division championship that West Covina couldn’t handle. That was Medrano’s troops kicking short. So, he’s pretty clever. This should work out well in the end.

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Covina coach Darryl Thomas resigns after 15 years, Colts begin process to find replacement…

Coach DT: FIVE league titles, FIVE semifinals

Longtime Covina High School football coach Darryl Thomas has resigned after a successful 15-year run. The school has begun the process to find a replacement.

Thomas, who lives in Upland, cited the desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for his decision. Thomas has two sons and a daughter who are heavily involved in sports. One of Thomas’ sons played on the freshman team this past season at Upland High.

“It was a tough decision,” Thomas said. “The last two weeks, I’ve had a hard time sleeping. I absolutely still love coaching football and I love Covina High School.

“One of our mission statements was to have each kid reach their highest potential, but now it’s time for me to help my own kids reach their highest potential. My kids are all becoming high-school age and it’s time for me to be a dad.”

Thomas, a 1986 graduate of Wilson High School, had an extremely successful run at Covina after taking over in 1997. The Colts won five league titles and reached the semifinals of the playoffs five times under Thomas, who finished with a record of 103-70. Covina made the playoffs in 11 of Thomas’ 15 seasons.

Thomas will remain on as the school’s athletic director. He will be involved in the hiring process for his replacement. Thomas did not rule out a return to coaching at some point, saying that he may even coach at the freshman level in the future because the time requirements aren’t as heavy as the varsity level.

If he did coach again, Thomas said it would be at Covina.

Aram’s take: What can you say about Coach DT? Class act. One of the best coaches in the area. You have to wonder if Covina can stay at this level with Coach DT no longer at the helm. He knew how to handle the type of student/athlete Covina gets very well. We’re gonna miss him.

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Bob Burt resigns as Wilson coach, assistant coach Nick Christos takes over

Bob Burt resigned Sunday as head coach of the Wilson High School football team after one season on the job.

Nick Christos, the Wildcats’ assistant head coach in charge of the offensive line, was immediately named as Burt’s replacement.

The Wildcats went 1-9 last season, winning only their final game of the season against Baldwin Park.

“What the administration asked me to do was get the thing straightened away from the standpoint of just attitude and discipline and guys getting in fights on the field and getting thrown out of the games and unsportsmanlike conduct (penalties),” Burt said. “We accomplished that. When they hired me, they had a full-time PE position and they said if you come in and do this you can bring in whoever you want to take over whenever you decide to step down.

“Nick is ready. I had him in on every administrative decision and all those things. It’s a very smooth transition. He’s a good football coach.”

Burt replaced former head coach Brian Zavala, who resigned last January amid allegations of recruiting violations and the school district hiring a private investigator to investigate his conduct. The investigation turned up no wrongdoing, Hacienda-La Puente Unified Asst. Superintendent in charge of Human Resources Rob Roberts said last January.

Burt, who was 69 when hired last March, said the team’s on-field struggles had nothing to do with his decision and has not ruled a return to coaching in some capacity this season. Burt, who is retired from teaching, lives in Hemet and made the nearly two-hour trek to Hacienda Heights daily.

“One-and-9 had absolutely nothing to do with it,” Burt said. “Anybody who knows me, knows 1-9 would make me want to come back. I’ve never had a season like that in my life. It’s not about 1-9. If that was the only thing it was about, I would still be there.

“I think I’m leaving it (the program) in good hands and good shape.”

Aram’s take: First of many … stay tuned. Anyway, I guess Burt’s one and only season in The Heights is left to the eye of the beholder. If you want to look at the fact that Wilson put a cleaner product with no ineligible players on the field this season, then you’ll call it a success. If you want to look at wins and losses, then you’ll call it a disappointment. At any rate, I don’t know how anybody looks at Wilson’s football program going forward and gets excited. I just don’t get the sense that football is a big priority to the school’s administration. Couldn’t they have put whatever supposed fire was still burning from Zavala Era out and hired a long-term coach all at the same time? Was it really necessary to turn to a guy like Burt, who is VERY RESPECTED in the coaching community, for one season? … one throwaway season. It really shouldn’t be that hard to have what the administration feels is a trustworthy coaching staff and a competitive team at the same time. It’s only difficult if you make it that way. The Wilson admin makes it that way. But the test scores are probably pretty good and the attendance numbers are solid, so you’re doing job right, right? It’s a damn shame that Kathie Wiard can’t be the principal at just about every school in the Valley.

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Ellis McCarthy chooses Cal, Kevon Seymour picks USC … CONGRATS to both!!!

The decisions are made … for now … and Monrovia’s Ellis McCarthy picked Cal, as expected if you’re a reader of this blog, and Muir’s Kevon Seymour chose USC when they announced their college choices on live television during the U.S. Army All-Star Game.

Congrats to both of these kids! Pretty big-time stuff for the lil ol’ SGV.

Aram’s take: Well, it isn’t exactly breaking news when it comes to McCarthy, is it? Thank you to my sources, who as usual were spot on. Feels nice to have the HOMETOWN paper/blog beat everybody else (just don’t ask me what happened with Kevon). Anyway, it kinda reminds me of when FOX thought it was going to have Los Altos’ Brigham Harwell announce his decision on live TV and I put them in the outhouse by having it in the newspaper that morning (there were no blogs at the time). As I said before, I don’t believe anything until they actually sign on the dotted line in about three weeks. Kids are fickle. Nonetheless, hopefully this holds up for both of them.

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