Roger Canepa has been named the new varsity football coach at Central Catholic High.
Canepa comes to the campus on Carpenter Road from Calaveras High, where he coached 10 years. Before that, he was the co-head coach with Robert Cendro at his alma mater, Sonora High.
Canepa, who was 91-22-1 at Calaveras, said he's happy and sad about the move.
"It's a new challenge for me, one of the top-notch programs not only in the area but in the state," Canepa said Thursday. "Maybe it was just time for a change.
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"But I'm going to miss Calaveras as well. We've become a family up there."
Canepa replaces Mike Glines, who had a 205-32-4 record in two stints spanning 22 years with the Raiders. Canepa said Glines' legacy will live on at Central, even under the new coach.
"The tradition will stay the same," he said. "And I didn't come down here to lose.
"The people here expect a lot, and I do, too. We may do some things different on the field, but the final product should remain the same."
Canepa is well known as a defensive guru. His Redskins teams won six Mother Lode League titles, and they're currently on a 17-game league winning streak.
"Roger's teams have always been physical, and they always get after it on defense," Escalon coach Mark Loureiro said. "Plus, he's the kind of coach players really like to play for."
Canepa joins a team that has dominated the small-school landscape since the turn of the century. The Raiders have won seven consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section titles. Last season, they were selected to play in the CIF State Division III Championship Bowl Game. Central lost to St. Bonaventure of Ventura 35-21.
"It's a great challenge to try to continue this tradition," Canepa said.
Canepa, 44, has coached in the area for 24 years. He spent 12 years as an assistant coach and co-head coach at Sonora, then moved over to Calaveras in 1998. His teams have never had a losing record. He'll continue to live near Jamestown, where his family owns a well-drilling business, and commute to Modesto.
"He's got the experience, the knowledge and the passion," Central Catholic president Jim Pecchenino said. "He's everything we were searching for. We're pretty thrilled to have him."
Canepa's next step is to meet with Central Catholic's current assistant coaches and see who would like to stay with the program. He said he's also looking at other assistants, coaches who "may not be coaching right now."
"We're going to play hard, and we're going to play to win," Canepa said. "It's exciting to come in here and get going."