They don’t make them like John Romano anymore; legendary coach nearing 600 victories

Dean of the Valley has Nobles fighting for a league crown

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN twitter@sgvtribpreps
In the dream scenario of all fantasy endings, is there a better script than the possibility of the Nogales High School baseball team running the table to win the Valle Vista League crown and finish on a magical run that ends with a CIF-Southern Section title?

Winning nine in a row to close out the season not only would give veteran coach John Romano his first CIF-SS title, but he would celebrate his 600th coaching victory in his 35th year of coaching the Nobles in a championship game.

It’s a question you probably shouldn’t pose to an old-school, no-nonsense guy like Romano, especially in a sport where superstitions are serious stuff.

“That’s too big to process, way too big,” Romano said. “Where do you get that stuff from? I’m just trying to process Northview on Wednesday. They’re up next.”

But even Romano, who coached legendary alum Cecil Fielder and has been at Nogales since the 1970s, allowed himself a minute to play along.

“I told myself I’m going to coach two more years and retire when I’m 60,” said Romano, who has a career record of 591-316-9. “But if it happened (winning No. 600 in a title game), I would probably walk away from the game forever.

“How do you coach after that?” (To continue click thread)

Cal Hi Sports keeps a record of the winningest high school baseball coaches of all time. With Romano at 591, he should catch San Marino’s Mickey McNamee by next season. McNamee owns the San Gabriel Valley record with 607 career wins. Gladstone’s Rich Remkus isn’t far back, entering the season with 569 career wins.

California’s all-time winningest baseball coaches
1,059 – John Stevenson, El Segundo, 1960-2009 (1,059-419)
879 – Guy Anderson, Cordova of Rancho Cordova, 1965-2012 (879-336-20) (current)
794 – Sam Blalock, San Diego Mt. Carmel 1976-1990 & San Diego Rancho Bernardo, 1991-2012 (794-299) (current)
753 – Dave Demarest, Westminster La Quinta, 1973-2007 (753-213)
723 – Walter “Spud” O’Neil, Colton 1980-1983 & Lakewood, 1984-2012 (723-195) (current)
708 – Mike Noakes, Fresno Bullard 1967, 1970-1996 & Fresno Central, 1997-2003 (708-262-7)
708 – Jeff Stout, Yucaipa, 1976-2012 (current)
683 – Bob Brian, Gustine 1951-1954 & South San Francisco, 1959-2001 (683-412-7)
657 – John Donohue, San Francisco Lowell, 1983-2012 (657-357-2) (current)
651 – Harry Jenkins, Redondo Beach Redondo Union & Torrance West, 1972-2004
645 – Tom Bergeron, Cerritos Gahr, 1972-2004 (645-299-14)
640 – Mike Curran, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 1977-1982 & Anaheim Esperanza, 1983-2012 (640-269) (current)
634 – Chris Bradford, Mountain View St. Francis, 1974-2004 (634-262-6)
631 – Steve Vickery, Lakeside El Capitan, 1981-2012 (current)
629 – Dennis Pugh, San Diego Mission Bay, 1977-2006 (629-199)
626 – Bob Zamora, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, 1977-2012 (current)
617 – Gary Cunningham, San Jose Del Mar 1974-1979 & San Jose Bellarmine, 1988-2008 (617-271)
615 – Dan Bodary, Lompoc, 1967-2001 (615-284-13)
607 – Mickey McNamee, San Marino, 1964-2007
604 – Bob Louriero, Escalon, 1963-2004 (604-357)
602 – Chuck Camuso, Cupertino, Sunnyvale & Cupertino Homestead, 1986-2010 at Homestead (602-493-10)
596 – Ken Papi, Fresno, 1975-2012 (594-415) (current)
591 – John Romano, Nogales, 1979-present (591-316-9)
584 – James Patrick, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial 1983-84 & Clovis, 1988-2012 (584-201-2) (current)
581 – Bill Hutton, San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 1983-2012 (581-308-5) (current)
579 – Jerry Lovarov, San Pedro, 1961-2003 (579-322-2)
569 – Rich Remkus, Covina Gladstone, 1989-2012 (current)
561 – Tom Muesborn, Chatsworth, 1991-2012 (561-107-4) (current)
550 – Art McRae, Ceres, 1960-1996 (550-427)
548 – Dick Serrano, San Diego University, 1976-1999
545 – Joe Winstead, Los Gatos, 1960-1999 (545-388)
533 – Caz Munoz, San Leandro 1964-1989 & Tuolomne Summerville, 1990-1997 (533-342)
512 – Ray Frederick, Delano, 1933-1966 (512-248-2)
502 – Allen Cropsey, Selma, 1958-1990 (502-283)
502 – Jack Thomson, Manteca 1981-1995 & Manteca Sierra, 1996-2012 (current)
501 – Norm Tanner, Vallejo, 1963-1996
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Softball Rankings: South Hills still one of the area’s best, but they may not get a chance to prove it in the postseason; Bonita-Los Altos battle for first today

1. Chino Hills (23-3) – Have done everything to warrant being the area’s top team and are a perfect 6-0 in the Sierra. But they haven’t won the league title outright. Since Chino Hills dropped St. Lucy’s the Regents have won every game since. If St. Lucy’s gets by South Hills on Wednesday, then Friday’s game at Chino Hills is that much bigger.

2. Bishop Amat (16-4) – The Lancers are going to win the Del Rey League and just like their soccer sisters, may have to go through some tough Sierra League teams in the divisional playoffs. After watching both Chino Hills and Amat, I’d take Chino Hills in a three-game series. But it’s close and would love for Amat to meet up with St. Lucy’s or Chino Hills in the postseason.

3. St. Lucy’s (18-4) – Extremely impressed how the Regents bounced back after a tough loss at home to Chino Hills a couple weeks back, especially pitcher Danielle O’Toole. She shutout a hard-hitting Charter Oak team 12-0 and most recently struck out 15 in a 7-0 win over Claremont. But as is always the case with St. Lucy’s, can they win the big ones? You’ll have your answer by the end of the week.

4. Duarte (16-3) – I agree with everyone else, it’s hard to tell exactly how good the Falcons are. They’re waiting for the playoffs to start while rolling through everyone in the Montview with ease.

5. Bonita (14-6) — Finally finding their groove, the Bearcats are tied with Los Altos for the Hacienda League lead with its big game at Los Altos today. Bonita’s always a hard out because of soph pitcher Anissa Sanchez and they have dangerous bats and players with plenty of club experience.

6. Charter Oak (12-7) — In the all important race for playoff spots in the Sierra, the Chargers did themselves a huge favor with a win over South Hills last week. The Chargers swept South Hills this year, so they own the tiebreaker should the teams finish in a tie for third.

7. South Hills (15-8) – South Hills coach Scott Fisch said it best at the beginning of the season when we pegged them the No. 1 team. “We can either win every game and go to the final or not make the playoffs.” Right now it’s looking like they won’t make the playoffs. Who knows what role Sydney La Follette would have played in this, but it’s obvious the Huskies miss their senior pitcher.

8. San Dimas (17-7) — It all goes down this week. The Saints (8-1) and Northview (8-1) are tied for the VVL league with the decider at Northview on Wednesday. These aren’t the great Saints teams of the past, but they’re still solid and so are the Vikings. Should be a good game.

9. Los Altos (15-6) — The Conqs haven’t posted their stats until this week and what stands out immediately is catcher Alyssa Villalpando, batting .545 with 10 home runs. The Conqs are on a roll with six straight wins heading into today’s game with Bonita. I also love what I saw last week. With Bonita at West Covina last Friday, Los Altos players made the trip to watch the game, showing just how much they’re dialed in on winning a league title.

10. West Covina (12-8) — I thought there would be some slippage for the Bulldogs softball team, but I found out why they’re still a top ten team. Senior pitcher Arianna Sanchez has been solid. She’s a transfer from an arts school where they tell me she was in dance. She started at West Covina as a freshman, left for two years and came back.

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Baseball Rankings: All eyes on the Valle Vista League’s wild race to the finish

1. Bonita (22-1) — Have been impressed with coach John Knott over the years, but this is the most impressive job he’s done. For a team that graduated as much as they did and figured to revolve around super senior Justin Garza, it’s been anything like that. A total team effort so far.

2. South Hills (14-6) – When everything is settled, despite starting 0-2 in the Sierra, looks like the Huskies are going to get it done. Still wonder what happened when they ventured to San Diego and took it on the chin, but they came back and have been stellar the second half of the Sierra.

3. Bishop Amat (16-9) -- First they lose Rio Ruiz, then they lose twice to La Salle last week, threatening their five-year reign in the Del Rey league. It’s not a typical Amat season but you know when the playoffs start they’re the team everyone wants to avoid.

4. Northview (14-5-1) – It’s great that Northview’s back in the league title hunt and having a great season. I’ve always thought they’re the little school with some of the best baseball fans in the Valley. With San Dimas in third, all eyes should be on the Valle Vista over the final two weeks, it’s a great race to the finish.

5. Glendora (13-8) – The Tartans are slipping down the stretch, losing three straight to fall a game behind Alta Loma in the loss column for the Baseline League title. The Tartans finish with the two worst, Rancho Cucamonga and Etiwanda, so if they can win four straight to end the season, they just might get a league title after all.

6. Damien (11-8-1) – At 5-5-1 in the Sierra, the Spartans are third behind Chino Hills’ 6-5 mark. Claremont (5-5-1) and Charter Oak (5-6) are right there too battling for the second and third playoff spots in the Sierra. you know it’s a tough league when your second place team hovers around .500.

7. Nogales (18-5) – The Nobles’ 17-game win streak was snapped by Baldwin Park, and that was huge. It left the Nobles tied with Northview (7-1) for the league lead with a home-and-away against the Vikings instead of having a one-game cushion. But hey, you figure if the Nobles are good enough to win the title, they have to do it beating the best teams in league, so here’s their chance.

8. Los Altos (15-8) – On track to finish second in the Hacienda League, which is about where most thought they should be when the season started. They still have an outside shot at a league title, but two games back of Bonita, they have to beat the ‘Cats at home today to have a shot.

9. San Dimas (15-7) — The Saints are hoping hoping for a Northview-Nogales split or a Nobles sweep, which would allow the Saints to control their own destiny by finishing with a home-and-away against Nogales next week. If Northview sweeps Nogales, San Dimas and Nogales are playing for second next week. Well, wait, Northview finishes with Covina. Told you it might get crazy.

10. Charter Oak (12-7) – They may or may not make the playoffs, but there is no doubt they’re a top ten team and dangerous when they want to be. Seriously, after opening the Sierra with a sweep over South Hills, who would have thought they would would have to rally in the final two weeks just to make the playoffs?

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