Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High school football notes: serious tones and serious comedic cracks at coach ... - Sacramento Bee (blog)

negri.jpgSome quick hit prep football notes as we bound into opening weekend, and a reminder that starting later today and midnight, previews galore will appear on SacBee.com and the rest of the week in the print edition:

* The National Football Foundation Coach's Kickoff Brunch on Sunday at the Carmichael Elks was a rousing success, sponsored by The Bee, MaxPreps and Access Sacramento. It was a hoot to emcee the event again in helping make this part roast, part meet-and-greet and full-bore fibbing as coaches downplayed their teams. Or, as River City coach Steve DaPrato said, "Welcome to the Liar's Club."

* Pleasant Grove coach Joe Cattolico said he expects his Eagles to emerge as a good team, one with speed backs Isaiah Saunders and Brandon Lewis and fullback Tyree Hanson, and he praised Burbank, the team Pleasant Grove battled in a scrimmage on Saturday.

* More Cattolico: He said in his years coaching in the Bay Area and locally, Sacramento has really emerged as a power in general. A big difference in the Bay and regionally is the consistently good coaching here.

* Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper, also with a greater Bay Area coaching past, said area football is "unbelievable." He added that coaches impacted his life growing up, recalling a story when as a junior varsity player he was pulled off the team bus before a road game and benched for skipping a class. Lessons endure: accountability. Said Cooper, "As coaches, we've got to keep fighting the good fight."

* Granite Bay, always loaded, has a whopping 41 seniors on its roster, including leaders Beau Hershberger and Taft Partridge. Downplayed Cooper, "We're just a regular high school football team." That's a Liar's Club classic. Granite Bay is anything but regular. Try superb.

* Vista del Lago coach Chris Jones peppered me for wearing a blazer at a coach's event with coaches comfy in flip flops and polo shirts. Hey coach, big event.

* Jones said Vista, in its sixth year, continues to climb. Despite setting all sorts of school records on offense last year, the team could actually "be better" this season.

* First-year Kennedy coach Matt Costa is stimulated at the chance to inject new football life into Greenhaven, drawing laughs when every coach in the room could relate when he said, "You look at yourself and wonder, 'why do I beat my head into the wall?' You get up at 4 ever morning, open that weight room at 6 and you know why." It's worth it, in other words.

* In attendance at the brunch were five coaches who have won 200 games in their careers: Mike Alberghini of Grant; Frank Negri (pictured) of Foothill and Natomas (now an assistant at Roseville); Ed Lombardi of Elk Grove and Sheldon (now retired); Max Miller of Cordova, Rio Americano and Johnson (now retired); and Tom Ingles, the first-year Bella Vista coach who coached 36 seasons in Washington. An ovation was offered to the legends. Dan Carmazzi won 200 games at Jesuit and is now at Christian Brothers. He did not attend the brunch.

* Roseville coach Larry Cunha, a playoff regular in his many years at the school, will start 15 underclassmen this season. He loves the upside of the youngsters, many of whom started on the Tigers' junior varsity co-Sierra Foothill League championship team.
* Negri cracked that if he steps away from football, he'll surely die of boredom within days. Cunha said everyone on staff has brushed up on CPR to keep the comedic old coach, closing in on 80, alive and well.

* Roseville is celebrating its centennial season as a school this fall. Centennial, Cunha added, is Negri's age plus 25 years.

* Rio Linda coach Mike Morris on his young team, "Eventually, I will like them." In truth, he loves the Knights' upside, especially runners Lamar Bible and Marcel Brown, a sophomore with an offer from Nevada.

* Morris on Negri, his mentor, dear friend and timeless target for comedic abuse, "I'm trying to get Negri to Twitter feed." Negri, of course, still uses a rotary phone and thinks cell phones have something to do with biology.

* Ingles, the new Bella Vista coach, said he quickly learned one thing about coaches on his staff and in the region. "They're liars," he cracked. "My assistant coaches, they're the nicest guys, but they're not too bright. They said, 'Look, here's a nice scrimmage just up the road. We'll have a little fun. We scrimmage Granite Bay, an awakening. We're trying to develop a new normal."

* Bert Salinas said he likes his linebacker leader in Josh Cardoza and the potential of Devin Jones, a junior playmaker and the younger brother of Dalen Jones, the graduated Woodland quarterback star now at Fresno State on scholarship.

* Salinas on the room full of grayish coaches, "I came to this event 10 years ago and thought you guys were all old , and you're still here. I'm 40, and our young coaches say, 'Hey old man.' Know what? I'm not that old."

* Oakmont coach Tim Moore on parents in general amid a howl of laughter: "Parents like all of us coaches right now. Right now, we're doing a good job."

* Moore said that despite few wins in recent years, interest remains high on campus, and the Vikings have huge program-wide participation of some 120 players. Oakmont is running out of locker space.

* Cracked first-year Florin coach Mike Morales, "Talking about numbers, we have 120 football lockers and 80 availabilities."

* Placer coach Joey Montoya said he experienced his first taste of recruiting two years ago, and now he's flooded with it just in USC commit Eddie Vanderdoes, a lineman. Quarterback Pete Denham has given a verbal commitment to play for Northern Arizona and tight end Stone Sander has been offered by Sacramento State. The team's most versatile talent very well may be three-year starting running back/linebacker Michael Robinson.

* Mesa Verde coach Ron Barney, in his 37th year, recalled a story of riding his beloved motorcycle this summer and taking a spill. Said Ron, "I bounced my head off the pavement, and the first thing I thought was, 'I've gotta get back to school.' I didn't tell my fiance. She thinks I'm crazy already."

* In a serious tone, Barney encouraged area coaches to look into the Boys to Men program, where football players are urged to become campus leaders. Said the coach, "It's changed the culture of our school, the morals and values."

* Cracked Casey Taylor of Del Oro moments later on Boys to Men, - "I thought that was a teen band."

* More Casey Taylor, "We had a special year, going to a bowl, and sometimes it's hard to regroup, but we have great senior leadership."

* Taylor on his relationship with Ernie Cooper of Granite Bay, "People think we hate each other because we're rivals. We're great friends. Ernie makes me a better coach."
* Antelope coach Matt Ray has 12 starters back, six on each side, including national recruit Tyler Winston, who had six interceptions as a cornerback and made plays as a receiver and special teams ace.

* Dave Morton is back coaching Laguna Creek after a 15-year hiatus. Looking fit and full of grins, the bear of a man cracked that he became a pretty good green thumb with his home garden. He also said he loved his liquid diet of savory brews and classic rock. Said Mort, "That was my life, and it was great, and not I've got a little giddyup to my old fat self. I'm a new/old guy, ready to go."

* Herb Berry takes over as head coach at Sheldon in place of his good friend Josh Crabtree, who is taking at least a season off to recharge and spend time with family. Berry is a charter member of Sheldon, the school's longtime defensive coordinator. He played for Ed Lombardi at Elk Grove in the 1980s, a quarterback, runner, scholar and leader, then graduating at Stanford.

"I remember going to the gold helmets at Elk Grove and thinking we looked like Notre Dame and it being the greatest thing in the world....I took two years off from coaching to save the marriage. Didn't work. Now I've got a lady who tells me, 'shouldn't you be at school, doing something in class or football?' I know I've got the right woman."

* Rosemont assistant coach Jerry Kushner feels like the old dog on the young team staff, cracking, "I'm 52, and after practice the other guys all go home and play Xbox."

* Capital Christian coach Phil Grams said every Pac-12 coach has stopped by his campus to peek at prospects, including two-way junior lineman Nifae Lealao, a piano mover at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. Said Grams, "Never seen a kid like him. Incredible."

* First-year El Dorado coach Joe Volek, "I don't know if the Pac-12 coaches even know where my office is. Or where Placerville is." Volek has the same sort of coaching gusto and passion as his famous father, John, the retired Sacramento State coach who later was athletics director at Sierra College. Papa Volek was in attendance, flanked by wife Vicki, the beauty and brains in the family, but not the most coordinated one. She was sporting a cast on her broken right arm, from falling down while trying to bowl a perfect gane. Rumor has it she still beat John left handed - and then got the limb in a splint.

* Casa Roble coach Norm Ryan, "I should be at the race track making money."

* More Norm: The Rams graduated 19 starters and 35 seniors, but 1,500-yard rusher Kody Jones is back along with five senior linemen. Said Norm, "our right side averages 360 pounds and our right 160. Lopsided. Kody knows where ot run, and now so does everyone else here."

* Vanden coach LaVon Haynes, "We got a nice transfer from Texas, through the Air Force Base. So glad his mother is in the military. And he has grades."

* More Haynes, "My daughter is a freshman cheerleader. Oh God."

* Whitney athletic director Jason Feuerbach said the Wildcats will be especially strong on the lines, units that include 6-3, 290-pound senior Aaron Froidevaux. Feuerbach cracked that he takes great glee in once working under Whitney coach Mike Gimenez, "and now I'm his boss."

* River City coach Steve DaPrato, back on the high school sideline for the first time since 1985 at Elk Grove and 21 seasons in college ball, is trying to comprehend the idea of Zero Week games. Or games in August, period. Said Steve, "Whoever thought of Zero Week should be shot." He then eyed Max Miller, the retired Cordova coach, and said, "lost to Max 15-14 in 1983. Still upset about that."

* DaPrato and the Raiders open against Christian Brothers, his alma mater, which now includes his old friend Dan Carmazzi. Elk Grove in 1984 ran for a then state-record 655 yards against Carmazzi's Jesuit team. Now DaPrato wants to introduce the run to the run-heavy Raiders, saying, "(Assistant coach Chris Baker) has the school passing record of 12 yards - for a season."

* McClatchy defensive coordinator Robert Larson played for the Lions in the early 1980s under coach Bob Sandoval, when the Lions were regionally ranked. McClatchy has struggled in recent years and the struggle continues to get numbers up. The Lions couldn't participate in a scrimmage last weekend - not enough bodies.

* McClatchy has one player of note in standout quarterback Nick Modar, a three-year starter with a college body at 6-foot-2. Said Larson, "Very good kid, very talented. He's the first one in the weight room and the first one on the field, a leader."

* Jesuit will scrimmage Monterey Trail on Thursday night at Monterey Trail in a veer-offense clinic of sorts. Neither team had a representative at the brunch.
- By Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
On Facebook: sacbeepreps
On the net: surewestsports.com
On podcasts: ESPN1320.net

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