Dramatic change looms in football coaching landscape

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman, Journal Sports Columnist
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Athletics, especially football, at the high school level is dominated by its coaches. The quality coach can build a powerhouse program despite the continual ebb and flow of athletes. Because high schools see their athletes come and go in four years, it is the coach that creates the foundation for winning. Here in the foothills, we have seen just such programs rise to dominance. Bill Miller and Tom Johnson at Placer in the late 70s to early 80s dominated the football scene. They were followed by Bob Christensen and John Fletcher at Del Oro as their football program became a juggernaut. Randy Blankenship and Dave Humphers have had Nevada Union on the top of the football pedestal for years. Terry Logue at Bear River turned a losing program into a perennial powerhouse. Tony Martello has created a football dynasty at Colfax over the last dozen years. With the end of school for the local high schools, there has been a dramatic change in the football coaching landscape. The movement of quality coaches in the area is sure to have an impact on the football season for 2010. Monte White, Del Oro’s athletic director, passed on an amusing anecdote during a conversation that highlights the importance of quality coaches. Many years ago Larry Gilardi, the head football coach of Kennedy High in Sacramento, met with his principal to discuss coaches for his program. During the conversation, the principal stated matter of factly that “good coaches were a dime a dozen.” Gilardi promptly pulled a dime out of his pocket, slapped it on the principal’s desk and said, “Here’s a dime. Find me a dozen good coaches.” For the local high schools, many have lost some outstanding coaches, while at the same time, they have added outstanding coaches to their respective coaching staffs. Following is a brief summary of some of the more important changes in the coaching ranks. Bear River High has added John Hilton to their varsity coaching staff. He will coach linebackers at the varsity level. Hilton left the Placer program on excellent terms. “Bear River is getting a dynamic coach in John Hilton,” Placer head coach Joey Montoya said. “He has a great football mind and gets his players to play hard.” Hilton is leaving the Placer program to further his professional development at Bear River. This is not an uncommon move. Montoya himself in his early days of coaching left Placer to coach at Nevada Union under Dave Humphers and his grandfather, Bill Miller. Hilton will continue to teach at Placer. Colfax High loses Jason Stowers to Del Oro High. Stowers, a stellar teacher and coach, is transferring to Del Oro next year so he can be closer to his home in Roseville. He feels the move to Del Oro will better prepare him to be a head coach one day, a position he dearly wants. Stowers is not certain on which level or position he will coach next year. Colfax will miss Stowers, but they reload with Mondo Alonzo moving from the freshman staff up to the varsity level. Alonzo has coached football at Colfax for decades, and a dozen years ago was the co-head varsity coach with a young Tony Martello. The Hillmen lose Rick Foley, the head JV football coach, to retirement. A master motivator, Foley will be missed by the Hillmen football staff. Foley will continue to lead the track program in the spring. However, the Hillmen varsity staff has added Bowman Wachob. An assistant on the lower levels last year, Wachob was the quarterback who led the Hillmen to a league championship and a long run through the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in the early 2000s.