As coach of the two-time defending state small-school football champs, Central Catholic head coach Roger Canepa is used to hearing from college recruiters interested in his players.
Now, it’s Canepa himself who’s been recruited … to coach in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game.
The annual all-star game, practices leading up to the contest, and a skills competition all will be televised by various ESPN platforms. The eighth annual game is slated for early January and will be played at a site in Florida. Details have yet to be ironed out.
“For me, it’s a big honor,” said Canepa, who’s only the eighth coach from California to participate in the Under Armour game. “But I’m only being honored for what my teams have done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to be going, but it’s all a result of my teams and my assistant coaches.”
It’s also partly due to a prominent Central Catholic alumna.
Lia Edwards (née Camara), a 1988 graduate of CCHS, is the wife of former NFL head coach Herman Edwards, who will be coaching in his fourth consecutive Under Armour Game. Former Cal and 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci is the other head coach.
The Edwards family lived in Modesto while their house on the Monterey Peninsula was under construction, and Lia Edwards took notice of her alma mater’s run of success.
“Every year when the roster would come out, I’d ask my husband, ‘Why is there nobody from Central California in this game?’ ” said Lia Edwards, who graduated from the University of San Francisco and later worked in the athletic departments at South Florida and the University of Miami. “Central Catholic’s accomplishments speak for themselves. The wins and losses speak for themselves.”
But don’t be fooled. Canepa isn’t coaching in this game just because the coach’s wife is a football fan.
“My wife’s a big fan and was always telling me to take a look at it,” said Herm Edwards, who coached the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs before trading in his whistle for an ESPN microphone. “I was impressed. I met Coach, and got to go over and watch a game and visit with the team.
“Wins and losses, that’s all great, but football is about life skills and he does a great job with that. … It’s well-deserved.”
Coaches won’t be able to refine a players skills all that much in just a week, but they can have impacts in other ways.
“We look for coaches that have a good track record of success on the field but off the field as well,” said Billy Tucker, the game’s director of personnel. “Our view is that through a week of practice, the players aren’t going to learn the game again, but they may take one or two things from the coaches and learn some great life lessons.”
Notable alumni of the Under Armour game include last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State, Braxton Miller of Ohio State, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 draft pick in last month’s NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, former USC star Matt Barkley and ex-Alabama standout Trent Richardson.
“You’re coaching with guys who coached at the highest level,” said Canepa, a Chico State grad who also is in the Butte College Hall of Fame with the likes of Larry Allen and Aaron Rodgers. “And you’re coaching players who might end up playing at the highest level, like Clowney. That doesn’t happen everyday. That’ll be pretty cool.
“But I don’t know what they’re going to think of me. I’m kind of old school. They might think, ‘Where’d they find this guy … under a rock?”
ELSEWHERE – No trip across the country goes off without a hitch. Oakdale’s Scott Sherman can attest to that.
As part of a four-man team competing in the Race Across America endurance cycling event, Sherman’s “For Pete’s Sake” team completed its 3,000-plus mile journey, which featured 170,000 feet of climbing, in 5 days, 20 hours, 46 minutes – ahead of their six-day goal. But the trip had plenty of hitches along the way.
“My partner, Scott Foreman, got hit by a car on Day 2 of the race in Colorado,” said Sherman, the chief financial officer at Pacific Southwest Container in Modesto. “He’s fine, but he was skinned up and bruised up, and we had to do some work on the bike. Fortunately, it was at the end of an eight-hour shift, so he had some time lick his wounds.”
The team had to deal with 110-degree heat as they crossed the desert in Southern California; there were 30 mph crosswinds all the way through Kansas; there were the 95-degree temperatures coupled with 90 percent humidity in the Plains states; there were severe thunderstorms and torrential rains in Missouri; a member of their navigation team had to fly home to deal with a personal emergency; and, to top it off, the team was stopped by a train somewhere near West Virginia for about 45 minutes. That allowed a German team to catch up and eventually overtake Sherman’s unit.
Still, despite the setbacks, For Pete’s Sake finished fifth and recorded the 25th fastest time for a four-man squad in the history of the event and raised more than $85,000 for the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“I’m really happy we raised the money we did for ALS,” said Sherman. “I had a personal goal of $100,000, so, we’re still trying to pump up that total.”
To make a donation to the For Pete’s Sake team, visit www.RAAMfps.org.