Pasadena names Doug Bledsoe as its new varsity football head coach …

PASADENA — Pasadena High School finally has its man.

The school named Doug Bledsoe its new varsity football head coach on Thursday afternoon ending what’s been an interesting search for a replacement to Randy Horton, who resigned in December after three seasons at the school.

“For me, this is an investment,” Bledsoe said. “It’s an investment in the community and for my family. I have a son right now who’s in the fourth grade and he’s going to be a linebacker.

“A dream of mine is to coach him right here at Pasadena High School, so I’m definitely in it for the long haul.”

Bledsoe was most recently the head coach at North Hollywood High where he turned around a program that was 1-9 the season before he took over and went 6-5 last season and reached the playoffs.

Bledsoe inherits a Bulldogs program that went 1-9 last season and hasn’t been competitive in The Turkey Tussle against rival Muir. Beating the Mustangs is at the top of his to-do list.

“Our objective is definitely to ring the bell at the end of the season,” Bledsoe said. “We feel that we have the pieces here to get it done. It’s a matter of getting the kids to believe.

“I know it’s been too long since we rang the bell. It’s been 16 or 17 years and that’s much too long. It’s not a rivalry unless both teams are winning. By the end of the year, it will be a big-time rivalry.”

The Bulldogs reportedly thought they had their next head coach earlier this month when it was reported by another local newspaper/website that former UCLA assistant coach Eric Scott had been hired to replace Horton, according to a unnamed school source.

The story later changed, citing Pasadena Unified School District Director of Communication Adam Wolfson, who said Scott was not hired after the school completed a background check.

Before Bledsoe can think about achieving one of his stated goals of winning a state championship, he must first figure out how to keep the local talent home and away from private schools that have been bankrolling their programs by looting the area of its top players.

“We believe that some of the best talent in the state of California is right here in Pasadena,” Bledsoe said. “We want to be able to keep that talent home. Of course, winning solves everything. When you’re winning, everyone loves you. We’re going to get that going this season.

“What we want to show all these parents and student athletes is that your child can be developed here and moved on to the next level.”

Bledsoe already has a staff in mind and is just awaiting principal’s approval. Several members of the staff will consist of former head coaches.

Bledsoe grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Dorsey High in 1987. He began his coaching career in 1995 as an assistant at Marshall High in Portland, Ore. He later moved on the junior college ranks and had stops at Pierce, West L.A., Compton and Pasadena City College before winding up at his alma mater Glendale College in 2009.

Bledsoe lives in Chatsworth with his wife and three children. He will be a walk-on coach at Pasadena, which did not offer a full-time teaching job with the position. He’s currently working toward a masters’ degree in special education.

I heard things …

Editor’s note: We’re starting a new thing around here at In the Huddle. It’s called “I heard things” … what it will be is a place where latest RUMORS that we think are likely to become fact (or fade away) will be thrown out there as JUST THAT, RUMORS! It will be up to you to figure out whether you believe it or not.

I heard things … the frontrunner/last finalist for the Etiwanda job is a current coach on staff at Covina. But finding out a name has been very difficult. The Etiwanda job is expected to be a walk-on position. So maybe this guy teaches at C-Town and will commute for the football gig?

Alhambra names Chuck Leonardis new head coach ….

This may be old news to some of you, but for those who didn’t know, hopefully this ties up that loose end.

Leonardis had previous coaching stints at Hoover, Arcadia, El Rancho and Monrovia. The district approved him on Jan. 8. He replaces Joe Kanach, who lasted one season before being let go.

Aram’s take:
Hopefully he breathes lift into the program. I have to beleive there’s talent to work with, but putting it all together has been another story.

I heard things … Bonita to the Sierra or Baseline leagues?

Editor’s note: We’re starting a new thing around here at In the Huddle. It’s called “I heard things” … what it will be is a place where latest RUMORS that we think are likely to become fact (or fade away) will be thrown out there as JUST THAT, RUMORS! It will be up to you to figure out whether you believe it or not.

I heard things … With preliminary discussions between athletic directors and principals already taking place as they work toward official proposals for re-leaguing and re-divisioning for the 2014 school year, one thing that keeps popping up is that the Hacienda League wants BONITA, and not WEST COVINA, OUT! While West Covina has somewhat dominated in football, that’s not not enough to get them out. Meanwhile, Bonita’s dominance in all sports across the board, is. Bearcats fans had better get ready for life in the Sierra League or the Baseline League. With Damien/St. Lucy’s a near-lock to be gone from the Sierra, Bonita looks like a major candidate to replace them … this may be hard for some Bearcats fans to swallow, but I Heard Things …

Strong field assembled for passing tournament May 18 at Charter Oak …

They get started earlier and earlier … Charter Oak football coach Lou Farrar announced this week that his program will host an eight-team passing tournament on May 18, that includes local powers Monrovia, La Habra and Chino Hills in addition to the Chargers.

The rest of the field is South Hills, Diamond Ranch, Rosemead and Glendora.

Each team will be guaranteed four games and there will be an elimination round toward the end of the day to determine a champion.

Aram’s take: It beats the hell out of spring practice. Only thing that concerns me is baseball guys not being available, but so be it. This will offer an early look into what these top area teams are working with heading into the summer circuit.

The Sanchez Bowl … Gladstone’s Albert Sanchez (East) vs. Joel Sanchez (West) in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game …

Gladstone’s Albert Sanchez will coach the East against El Monte’s Joel Sanchez in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game.

The game is going to be played earlier this year, but I haven’t heard an exact date. Nonetheless, this will be The Sanchez Bowl … and also Round 2 of Amezquita/B-Mart. If you’ll recall, the two All-Area QBs put on a show in Week 3 with Gladstone winning 68-66 in 3 OT.

The game will also mark the final hurrah for Albert Sanchez, who resigned shortly after the season ended.

Mark Paredes named new head coach at Damien

Mark Paredes, who coached Bishop Amat to arguably its best-ever season in 1992, was named the new varsity football head coach at Damien High School on Thursday.

Paredes, who spent the past three seasons as the head coach at JW North in Riverside, replaces Greg Gano, who resigned in December at four seasons at the school. Gano has since been named head coach at Tustin.

“I toyed with the idea and really didn’t think I was in the ballpark and finally it came to fruition,” Paredes said of being hired. “It’s one of those thing that everything came to be in place. They wanted me and I wanted them and I decided that it was a good situation. I’m excited about building a program and continuing the Damien tradition.”

After leading Amat to California’s first-ever 15-0 season in 1992, which included a CIF championship and a win in the now-defunct Reebok Bowl, Paredes left in 1994.

He landed at JW North where he won CIF championships in 1995 and 2001. Paredes left JW North in 2001 to become the offensive coordinator at Riverside College until 2010 when he left to return to JW North.

Damien received over 70 applications for the position, which flew until early January. Principal Merritt Hemenway, who like Paredes has Amat connections, said the school made a short list of six candidates before ultimately coming to terms with Paredes.

“Making a final selection was a challenge,” Hemenway said. “In the end, Mark’s extensive experience at both the high school and college levels, and the fact that he matched each of the elements we were looking for in a head coach, made the decision, one of him getting to say yes, the greatest challenge.

“He is an excellent coach, a wonderful family man, an accomplished classroom teacher and a steeped in the traditions of Catholic education.”

Damien’s program has fallen on hard times in recent years. The Spartans have not won a playoff game since 2006. When Gano was hired prior to the 2009 season, he appeared to be the spark the school needed. But the four-time CIF champion could manage only two postseason appearances, losing both, and never won a league title.

“I have no idea how Damien has been doing,” said Paredes, a 1970 graduate of St. Paul who lives in West Covina. “I don’t know their record last year, to be honest. I was busy at North that I was basically focused on working on next year and the opponents that we have.

“Basically, my attraction to the school was the religious aspect, the principal and that it’s closer to home.”

Paredes said he’s already working on putting a coaching staff together and that he currently has no plans to hire anyone who was with him at North or anyone currently at Amat. As to whether Damien would put Amat back on its schedule after dropping the Lancers last season at Gano’s asking, Paredes said he’d prefer not to play his former employer.

“Bishop Amat is a high school that I love, JW North is a school that I love, St. Paul is a school that I love,” Paredes said. “I would not go and seek playing them only because you have mixed emotions. Let me put it this way, if I have to play them, I will play them. If I don’t have to play them, I won’t play them.

“I have friends everywhere. It would be fun, I guess. I wouldn’t hesitate to restore that rivalry, if need be. Our schedule is full right now. We’ve always tried to schedule the best competition we can at JW North.”

Chino Hills coach Derek Bub resigns … Bechtel up next?

Derek Bub resigned as Chino Hills High School football coach on Wednesday after five seasons, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and seek a position in higher up in administration. Bub is currently the school’s athletic director.

Bub won Sierra League championships in his first three seasons and compiled a record of 43-16-1. He did not rule out a return to coaching, and even hinted at it being a certainty.

“I’m going to spend some time with family and also go down the administration route,” Bub said Wednesday morning. “I thought about it over Christmas break and wanted to see where I was at. It’s one of those thing where I have to put my family first. It just makes sense for me.

“To sit here and say that I’m never going to coach again would be a lie. It’s in my blood. To tell you I’m not going to be shaking on the sidelines next year would be an absolute fabrication. I love this game. I love what it does for kids. But for right now, I think this is the best decision for me. That’s not to say I won’t entertain anything for years to come.”

The Centennial game Bub was referring to came in 2010 with what was arguably his best team at Chino Hills. The Huskies reached the semifinals of the Inland Division playoffs that season and gave a juggernaut Centennial a battle for three quarters before falling 42-23.

“Off the field, I think we produced a great number of kids that make us proud in the community,” Bub said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that will stick with me. On the field, obviously, the Centennial game sticks in my mind and some games against Charter Oak. We had some great games in the past five years.”

Bub said the school will fly the job within the district as soon as possible, and will fly it outside the district if needed.

“I’d like to have somebody in place by the beginning of February,” Bub said. “We’ll get things going and make things as smooth as possible.”

When asked if former Colony head coach and current Huskies offensive coordinator Matt Bechtel was the favorite to take over, Bub said he wasn’t sure and it depended on the applicants.

“I don’t know if I’d say he’s the favorite because I don’t know who else is going to put in,” Bub said. “I like Matt. I like the way he coaches. I enjoyed being able to coach with him for the past year. I think he does a great job. I like everything he has to offer, but who knows who else is going to come out in the district or even outside the district.”

Aram’s take: First, let me say that Bub is/was an absolute class act. Never heard anyone in the coaching community have a bad word to say about him. He was great to work with for Fred and I. It’s not an easy drive going from the Chino Hills area to the Tribune area, but Bub always had his players available and on-time airlines for any photo opps we needed, which included even sending standouts Ifo-Ekpre Olumo and Nate Harris all the way to the Rose Bowl for our Signing Day photo shoot in early 2011. As for the open job, I kinda feel like saying “interested applicants need not apply”, but I won’t. However, the theory has been “out there” since last year that Bechtel would come over, call the offense, then become the head man when Bub made his move to admin. Looks like it’s unfolding, although I’ve heard Bechtel’s name mentioned with both the Etiwanda and Damien openings … maybe that’s why today’s news was expedited? Dunno. Nonetheless, if Bechtel does get the job, the Huskies will be in good hands and I would expect that Bub would play a role on the staff sooner than later. Good for Bechtel or whomever gets it. Talk about one great job.

Bishop Amat’s Dionza Blue gets special visitor at home …

Boise St. head coach Chris Petersen (left), Amat’s Dionza Blue (middle), Boise St. assistant Jim Lake (right)

I guess you can call this making it official before making it official. Amat RB/DB Dionza Blue got a home visit from the Broncos contingent on Monday to firm up his commitment to be a Bronco next season. Blue had originally given a verbal commitment to Fresno St., but changed his mind, like any of us would, when Boise came calling.

Blue was a Tribune All-Area selection this season after leading Amat in tackles, interceptions, rushing and touchdowns.