The early list of coach of the year candidates are plentiful. Anything can happen over the next several weeks, but the early contenders are worth noting, and for the fun of it, I’ll rank the TOP TEN.
Above: First-year coach Albert Rodriguez has a huge game against Charter Oak on Friday. Both teams are 5-1.
1. Albert Sanchez, Gladstone — In what might be his final season he’s having his best season ever and the Gladiators (6-0) are off to their best start in school history. But are they hanging by a thread? A 10-0 regular season would be remarkable for a team that had key players quit before the season.
2. Albert Rodriguez, South Hills — Another truly remarkable story. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would have pegged the Huskies to be 5-1. Not after the firepower they lost last year and replacing legendary coach Steve Bogan. Few still expect the Huskies to make the playoffs in the Sierra, but if they knock off Charter Oak this week, and that’s a big if, move Rodriguez to the front of the line.
3. Randy Reams, Ayala — Nobody expected a 3-7 team from last year to be 5-1 and a serious threat to win the Sierra League title. He’s done an unbelievable job and if they beat Chino Hills this week, his stock soars.
4. Steve Hagerty, Bishop Amat — This wasn’t supposed to be the year the Lancers went undefeated. Not with Jalen Moore, Rio Ruiz and Zach Shay graduated. Not with games against Chino Hills, Servite, Charter Oak, La Mirada and St. Paul. But they’ve done it again, their best start since …well, 2010, when they started 9-0.
5. Joel Sanchez, El Monte – One of the hardest places to build a winner, Sanchez finally has one. They’re 4-2 and trying to win their first league title since 1979. After beating Arroyo for the first time since 1990, they’re off to a good start.
6. Lou Farrar, Charter Oak — Big Lou’s surprising us again. With Travis Santiago graduated and Kurt Scoby off to St. Paul, no way are the Chargers (5-1) competing for the Sierra League again. Turns out, they might be more dominant than ever.
7. Craig Snyder, Rowland — No way was this team supposed to be 5-2 and tied for the Hacienda League race at any point. It shows again that Snyder is truly one of the gems in the San Gabriel Valley. There aren’t many who can do as much with less.
8. Adrian Medrano, Bonita — Can remember when bloggers were calling him a “one and done” coach after starting 0-3, though two losses were close games to San Dimas and La Serna. The first-year coach has been the talk of the town since, winning three straight Hacienda league games in convincing fashion. If the ‘Cats (3-3) win league and go deep in the playoffs, he’s got a shot.
9. Jason Martin, Duarte — When you’re 3-0 in the Montview (4-2 overall) and already have knocked off four-time league champ Azusa and ended its 27-game league winning streak, you’re in the running for coach of the year honors. This might be the best Falcons team since Wardell Crutchfield was let go to “move in another direction.”
10. Jerry Lewallen, Glendora — He may round out the list, but the Tartans and Lewallen control their own destiny too. Seriously, if they somehow shocked the world and won the Baseline, he would have to be a strong, strong consideration. Walk-on coaches can’t win the Baseline can they? As is, a 3-3 start is great considering the injuries in all their losses.