Ted Howze knew he wanted to be a high school football coach ever since he was a teenager.
Three decades later, after being named the new head coach at Denair High School, he’s finally achieved his goal.
“My freshman football coach at Hanford High, a man by the name of Walt Parker, really got it when it came to football,” said Howze, 47, a veterinarian who served a term on the Turlock city council (2006-10). “I felt like he was a maker of men, and I knew I wanted to have the same influence on young men that he had on me.”
While earning degrees in exercise physiology and veterinary medicine at the UC Davis, Howze took classes in football theory from College Hall of Fame coach Jim Sochor, who led the Division II Aggies to 18 conference championships. And for the past nine years, Howze has been coaching Turlock youth football. His teams the past three seasons are a combined 47-3 (26-0 over the past two seasons) with three Cen-Cal Super Bowl titles.
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Now, Howze faces the challenge of challenges as he attempts to revive a Denair program that was 2-17 the past two seasons under veteran coach Rich Goodwin.
“People lose enthusiasm for a sport when you’re not having success,” said Howze, whose three sons all currently attend Denair High School. “We’re trying to get some of the kids back who have dropped out of the program the last couple of years.
“As far as younger kids go, we’re outreaching to eighth-graders, trying to convince them that Denair’s a good district to stay in; that it’s a real program with a bright future.”
Though Howze is a walk-on coach, his job affords him the necessary time to commit to full-time coaching. In fact, before the passing of his wife in June of 2013, Howze considered retiring.
“I thank God everyday that I have a career that allowed me to be home everyday in the afternoon and coach my kids,” said Howze, who met his wife, Sharon, at UC Davis.
Sharon Howze was an adaptive physical education teacher who also served as an assistant track coach at Denair.
“The absence of a mother is not easy to get past, but their mother was a coach, and she taught them to pick their heads up, work hard, and go on,” he said.
While Howze had to put off his plans for retirement as a veterinarian, he is adamant that he’s retired – for good – as a politician.
Turlock mayor John Lazar recently announced he would not seek another term, leading many to wonder if Howze might enter a mayoral race.
“I’ve been asked that question about 10 times over the last two months,” said Howze. “I’m a football coach. I’m done with politics.
“With citizen government, you participate and then you go away and give somebody else a chance. I cherished my time on the council, and I’m proud of the things we accomplished, but now I’m a football coach.”
Howze’s passion for football, and the town of Denair, greatly impressed members of Denair High’s administration.
“One thing that came across in the interviews, and it’s reason we took a chance on a coach with a lack of varsity experience, is that Ted has a passion for football and love for the Denair community,” said DHS principal Aaron Delworth. “Ted understands what Denair needs and he sees the bigger picture outside of football: Our student-athletes are stuents first and athletes second, and we’ve had lengthy conversations about how to tie the two together.
“Football can be a catalyst for the school year, and in a small town like Denair, it’s a community event. He’s willing to be the face of the program and be out in the community and make it a community event again.
To do that, Howze knows he must change the culture for Denair to once again become competitive in the Southern League.
Howze plans to use a multi-formation, direct-snap offense, similar to those run by Nevada and Auburn. He’s already named a defensive coordinator – former BYU linebacker Shay Muirbrook, who had a cup of coffee with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and still holds the Cotton Bowl record with six sacks in a single game (1997).
The Coyotes compete in the Southern League with Mariposa, Orestimba, Ripon Christian, Waterford and Le Grand, the four-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division champions.
Howze’s hiring still must be approved by the Denair Unified School District board on Thursday, but that’s essentially a formality at this point.