Tonight’s inaugural Catholic/Christian all-star game is also the swang song for St. Paul’s legendary coach Marijon Ancich, who retired after 360 career victories.
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By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
WHITTIER – Sometime around 10 tonight, Marijon Ancich will walk across Whittier College’s football field, shake Jay Schroeder’s hand and call it a career.
It will be the end of one of the more prolific coaching careers in California.
Ancich, the all-time victories leader among Southern California football coaches with 360 wins, says goodbye tonight when he guides the South team in tonight’s inaugural Catholic/Christian Literacy Classic, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Whittier College.
The game, which features the best private school graduating seniors in Southern California, will also include 15 area players from the greater San Gabriel Valley. (To continue, click thread).
The list features eight players from St. Paul, three from Whittier Christian, two from Bishop Amat and one from La Salle that make up part of the South team, with one from St.Francis, which is on the North squad coached by former NFL player and present Village Christian coach Schroeder.
The list of area players are St. Paul’s Kevin Romo (linebacker), Tyler Carrillo (tight end), Gabriel Gonzalez (defensive back), Josh Salazar (defensive line), Paul Governale (offensive line), Marcus Garcia (defensive back), David Cabral (running back/linebacker) and Michael Ortega (running back); Whittier Christian’s Daniel Abernethy (linebacker), Grant Escobar (receiver) and Ryan Wallace (offensive line); Amat’s Jalen Moore (running back) and Adam Sanchez (receiver); St. Francis’ Zach George (offensive line); and La Salle’s Josh Hall (receiver).
But this night will long be remembered as Ancich’s final game of a career that dates back to 1961 and has included three stops at St. Paul (1961-81; 1993-2005 and 2009-2011) and one stint at Tustin (1982-92).
“It should be interesting,” Ancich said of his final game. “I don’t really know how I’m going to feel. But to coach kids I’ve known (at St. Paul this season) and others who I know about from the great programs in Southern California is special.”
Ancich’s career has been special. He is the winningest Southern California coach and is second in the state only to De La Salle’s Bob Ladouecur.
He won CIF-Southern Section titles at St. Paul in 1968, 1972 and 1981 and combined guided teams to seven CIF-SS championship games.
“There are so many special moments,” Ancich said. “It’s hard to think of just one, just so many great things and teams I’ve been fortunate to be a part of. There have been guys over the years who have come through and made big plays for us.
“But really, I’m just proud of the guys I’ve been able to coach. The thing I’ll miss is just interacting with the kids. As the years go by, you see all the different worlds they have (graduated) to. We have doctors, lawyers, one is a Naval Academy graduate and is a commander in the (U.S.) Atlantic Fleet. That’s really what I’m most proud of.”
Another aspect of Ancich’s career is his coaching tree, which at last count has 116 coaches who coached with or played for Ancich at St. Paul.
Tonight’s game is special for him also because he will be able to coach eight players who he guided at St.Paul this season. They include All-Mission League players Romo and Carrillo.
But it goes both ways between the coach and players.
“It’s a great honor for me to play for one of the winningest coaches in California,” Carrillo said. “He also coached my brother, so it’s a great honor.
“This is more special, because coach Ancich chose some of the players on the (South team). I’m happy to be a part of it.”
The game features some of the better players in Southern California. They include Bishop Amat’s Moore, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. Others include Ortega and Cabral, who combined for nearly 1,000 yards at St. Paul, and Carrillo, who was one of the better receiving/blocking tight ends in the Mission League.