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

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.”

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

  • Not So Fast My Friend

    Speechless.

    I touched on this before in a previous post. Not the plight of Blair’s athletic program, but more the demise of Pasadena’s once talent rich public schools.

    Pasadena still is talent rich, but those kids are not going to the public schools in the area. Most have been cherry picked or migrated to a few preferential private and other public schools.

    That’s an indictment in so many areas that’s it’s almost too many to count. No one, or persons, will step forward and accept the obvious blame for it. They’ll point fingers elsewhere. However, that is no longer the issue. The issue is how to fix what’s clearly a broken program at Blair.

    I’m looking forward to reading Lawrence(?) from the Pasadena Hall of Fame, for his thoughts. This is tragic, but I expect given the financial struggles of City Governments, school districts and the availability of academic/athletic options (ie Transfers), this is probably the first of many.

    I hope not.

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

    Tragic is a great word! Any kid at any school should have the opportunity to play football and play it in a well-maintained program. But as I’ve mentioned before, football programs and other sports programs are more and more at the mercy of administrators who just don’t get it.

    I don’t care if you play at Bassett, Mountain View, Blair, Keppel or Charter Oak, you’re special just for being out there and putting in the work and taking the risks under the lights.

    No kid should be denied the experience.

  • Green pastures aka “El Gato Monte”

    The Rio hondo is a sinking ship. I hope CIF gets us out it soon. We can’t grow in that league. It’s not fun anymore. Blair used to be decent. However, their varsity team couldn’t beat our JV… Sad but true.

  • Fbfan

    I 100% blame the principle and AD. They passed up a great opportunity to hire a great coach that has worked in SGV for a very successful program. I’m not going to mention names but they dropped the ball on this one. I have some inside information. From what he told me the interview process was a joke. The PUSD needs to get rid of the ad and principle. Bring on people that actually care about the community more than just collecting a pay check. Blair should be a top tier athletic program. They have a great academic program. I hope they can turn things around.

  • Opening

    That leaves a hole in the Monrovia schedule and that’s the same week Amat has a bye.

    Make it happen toolbags.

    All this BS about Monrovia and Amat is a joke.

    Wonder why all the CO and Amat toolbags aren’t talking now they got their games.

  • MonroVian

    Opening,
    Man as much as I would LOVE that, it will never happen because it’s durring league play. Great idea though bud, helluva Idea!

    “You Don’t Want No Green And White”

  • AMAT 73

    Sad to hear . My first CIF championship experience was watching AMAT vs Blair at the Coliseum as a freshman when they had the backfield of McCallister and Johnson which Blair won as AMAT went for the win on a 2 point conversion and failed . Maybe they merge Muir and Blair football programs if all else fails at least to give the young men at Blair a chance at playing football.

  • Not So Fast My Friend

    Aram:

    I totally agree. Every kid should get/have the opportunity to compete and enjoy the experience.

    Unreal what’s going on over there.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    This is a sad situation not only for Blair, but for every team on their schedule as well. If Blair cannot field a team, they will have to forfeit all the games on their schedule and the opponents miss out on a game in a brief High School football career! Sad, sad, sad….

    I’m pulling for them to get it together, football is such a huge part of the American High School experience, and it would be unfortunate if these kids miss out on it.

  • Dan

    Sounds like Blair doesn’t have the numbers even if a coach does show up. With 12 or 15 kids they will be getting killed every week, injury would be more likely because of fatigue. I feel bad for the kids who wanted to play, especially kids who have potential to play beyond highschool like the one mentioned in the write up. Imagine looking forward to the upcoming season and then eventually finding there may not be a team this year. This late in the season I like 73′s idea making it eligible for these kids to go over to other schools without losing time. Muir or Pasadena could use a few extra kids and it gives all schools kids a better chance to be on a successful team. Hopefully Blair will eventually hire a coach and develope a team, but till then hopefully these kids will be able go to other schools to play ball.

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

    Dan,

    This is why I wrote about support being so crucial to a football program. I go to a tournament where West Covina is playing (SGV Shootout or Rancho) and there are two tents set up with coolers and parents/boosters and a place for the players to congregate and so on.

    Meanwhile, I get in contact with former Blair standout Sean Smith, who is now a starting corner back for the Miami Dolphins and he declines to comment on this Blair story. You’d think he might be influential, you’d think that MAYBE a comment from him would help light a fire under the people who obviously need one lit in Pasadena. But he declines.

    Sometimes, even though it may not be technically your responsibility, it’s up to a community to make sure their football program does not sink. Or stays at a certain level.

  • http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org PASHOFPAL

    “Not So Fast My Friend” said

    I’m looking forward to reading Lawrence(?) from the Pasadena Hall of Fame, for his thoughts. This is tragic, but I expect given the financial struggles of City Governments, school districts and the availability of academic/athletic options (ie Transfers), this is probably the first of many.

    I’m speechless as well; embarrassed actually. Especially, for a school with such a strong athletic legacy. It’s almost the same situation when “Tip’ Sanders left i.e. the school deciding to tear up the football field before training camp, and the “then” principal telling him that athletics wasn’t a priority. Never in the history of high school sports have I heard of student athletes playing for a school that didn’t care, or at least made it so obvious, if it had a team.

    This is not a economic problem or issue. Simply put, it’s an administration and school pride concern. Alumni, booster clubs and PTA’s seem to be the only salvation these days…but, many are non-existent. What do we do? I’m stumped. We can’t get an interim coach; no one in Pasadena wants this position? Call me – I’ll gladly coach this team!

    But, Vikings are strong…they will survive. I hope.

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

  • Not So Fast My Friend

    Hey Laurence:

    Sorry for the misspelling.

    I’m glad you cleared that up; that it’s an administration problem. That’s beyond unfortunate.

    Every time I come back and read Aram’s post, I’m flattened. Hopefully some changes come to Blair and soon via community or common sense.

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