Video/Story: Former Amat legend Mark Paredes introduced as Damien’s next football coach

On facing former schools ..
“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.”

By Aram Tolegian
Story: 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 after 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 things 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 returned 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 is 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 so 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 request, 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.”

Below: That’s Mr. Mark Paredes to the far left along with some of your favorite all-time coaches. Great picture from Keith Birmingham

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  • 90′s Spartan

    Why is this a shocker?

  • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

    Everything I heard is that they wanted to go young. I thought some Amat assistants might be in play, but not one of Amat’s all-time great coaches.

    • 90′s Spartan

      Fair enough. I thought his name was in the mix from the start. I guess I don’t get shocked as easily as you. ;)

      • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

        It makes for a good headline

    • AnOutsideTake

      There still are Amat assistants in play. He hasnt hired a staff yet.

  • 12th man

    Makes you wonder why Amat couldn’t get him..Politics? I think Damien would be a good fit especially if he has green light like Gano did when it comes to recruiting..Lancers need to move in a different direction when it comes to attracting big name athletes if they want this historic program to move forward or stay in the pac5~

    • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

      Maybe it was timing, but I do know Gano was paid well. I nice six-figure salary would attract anyone.

    • jcaz

      Amat ain’t recruiting anyone anytime soon. Coaching staffs a bunch of pansies

  • AZTEC PRIDE

    Aram is getting better than TMZ. Good job and keeps the blog rolling. Anybody watch BOBO from C/O play against Arizona? Looked real good making some catches and the kicker from C/O was also doing some punting. Arizona’s defense look pretty good. Alright, all we have left is the Super Bowl and season 2012 is wrap!

    • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

      I thought our SGV all-star game was just as good if not better

      • AZTEC PRIDE

        Fred forgot to mention that I’m able to post from work now. We have certain computers here at work that are compatible with Disqus but the problem is the computer is right next to my boss! LOL… Alright Fred good to be back and what’s your prediction on how the ST. LOUIS RAMS are going to do next season. AZUSA FOOTBALL.

        • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

          My prediction is I hope they become the Los Angeles Rams in the next 3-5 years

          • jcaz

            I hope your right…..

        • Steve Ramirez

          Remember AP, we don’t use the SL word!

    • jcaz

      Aram has certainly been on it as of late….Good job Aram !

      • AZTEC PRIDE

        Well look who took the time to reply to my message but none other than the HALL OF FAMER in Fred’s Blog! What’s up Jcaz, and who you going for in the Super Bowl? I want the RAVENS to win it but I just don’t want to see RAY LEWIS cry if they win! LOL… Jcaz why don’t you mention to Fred, to place his classic SUNDAY’S JUST TRIBIN article up again and we miss your NOT CLASSIC JOKES! LOL… Alright have a good TGIF!!! AZUSA FOOTBALL.

        • jcaz

          You know its funny because not all that long ago I even saw Joe amat asking Fred to put that back up so he could make a comment or two.
          BTW, speaking of the ravens….. man oh man have I been cleaning up with these guys in Vegas over the last month or so, and ya, i’d like to see them win but only because I don’t like the 49ers cause my (and your) Rams have always had a rivalry with them.
          Mighty are the men in blue……AZUSA BLUE !! Ha ha ha

  • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

    Now that Mark Paredes is at Damien, how many Bishop Amat assistants will join him?

    • AnOutsideTake

      2.. Just a guess

  • Colt74

    “In order to be a champion, they got to practice like a champion.”
    English as a second language? In order to be a champion, they got to be able to speak like a champion. Champion ( singular ) They ( plural ). If that was from a catholic education I would ask for a refund.

    • UCLAman

      Their hiring him to win football games not speak english.

  • Valley Athletics

    Great coach with a good resume . But let’s not forget Gano also had a great resume and everyone was all hyped when he went to Damien . Rebuilding a program is very tough to do . At Amat he took over a great program with all the talent already there . It’s a different time and I don’t see him making that much of a difference . I don’t see him getting Any of the current Amat staff .these are Bishop Amat guys who where former players at Amat . Why would they leave Amat for Damien .

    • Not So Fast My Friend

      We’ve played against JW and they were always a solidly coached program. That’s usually a sign that that type of coaching, by a coach, follows that coach where they go. He’s a good pick for that program. It may take him a minute to ramp it up, but they’ll be fine in the long run. The bigger issue is can he attract top talent to that program to get them above and beyond where he’ll get them.