High School Football

Here’s advice longtime Modesto-area coaches are offering this year’s newcomers.

As he prepares for his 11th year at Central Catholic, football coach Roger Canepa said the days of coaches staying at one school for a long time are over.

“When I first started coaching, a lot of coaches were lasting 15 to 20 years,” said Canepa, who spent 10 years as the head coach at Calaveras before taking over at the Modesto private school. “I don’t think we will see that anymore.”

When the season begins on Friday, eight Stanislaus District schools will have new coaches.

In the Central California Athletic League, half of the teams will have first-year coaches while the other half are led by those with at least 10 years at their current campuses.

The off-the-field tasks, especially the surprises, are what some area coaches said are the toughest and most time-consuming issues.

Dylan Miller, a Modesto High alum who begins his first year with the Panthers, agreed. Just this summer, he’s had to be mindful of weather advisories and contend with, of all things, a broken ice machine.

Shaun King, who begins his second year at Hughson, said equipment weighs heavy on his mind. He’s had to make sure all of his athletes are correctly outfitted — at over $800 for each player. He’s already working on the team’s 2020 schedule.

Checking grades to make sure each player is eligible also is a big task, King said.

“The hardest part is behind-the-scenes stuff,” Beyer first-year coach Greg Bockman said. “You turn every corner and something is there. Outside people don’t understand what head varsity coaches do. The football stuff is the easy and fun part.”

Enochs coach James Stacy, who is entering Year 10 with the Eagles, advises new head coaches is to avoid dramatic changes — on everything from how a team warms up to switching offensive and defensive schemes.

“See what you have and try to get acclimated,” Stacy said.

Trent Merzon, who led Oakdale to a CIF State title in 2016, said a coach shouldn’t get into the business to “glorify” himself.

“Get into it for the right reasons,” said Merzon, who begins his 20th season as Oakdale’s head coach. “Surround yourself with quality human beings (coaching staff) and know there are going to be tough times. You aren’t going to appease all the critics. Winning doesn’t always appease critics.”

The Mustangs have advanced to at least the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals in every year since 2014.

Said Merzon: “People want to see you fail.”

Hilmar coach Frank Marques, who led Hilmar to section and state titles in 2018, jokingly said first-year coaches shouldn’t listen to the media. They should believe in themselves.

“Stick to it and stick by your gut,” he said.

Most coaches said they aren’t coaching for the pay. During the 2017-18 school year, a varsity head coach in Modesto City Schools earned $2,498 for coaching, according to the district website.

Andrew Beam, who begins his second year at Escalon, said new coaches should seek advice from veteran coaches.

“Myself, I have Mark Loureiro (former Escalon coach) and Canepa,” he said. “You have to be humble and ask for help.”


2018-19 Stanislaus District Football Coaching Changes

SchoolOutgoing CoachIncoming Coach
BeyerDoug SevereGreg Bockman
GregoriJason McCoyLamar Wallace
ModestoBrett WagnerDylan Miller
Modesto ChristianMike ParsonsBrett Butler*
PitmanTom TylerLance Weckerle
Ripon ChristianTrey OzenbaughRandy Fasani
RiverbankKit JoyAnthony Buich
WaterfordLonnie StatzerAdam Hilton

*Butler takes over for Ryan Green who resigned after three months.

Week 1 Schedule

Friday, Aug. 23

7 p.m.: Beyer at Enochs (Downey), Buhach Colony at Gregori, Modesto Christian at Sierra, Clovis West-Fresno at Central Catholic, Pitman at Clovis North-Fresno, Freedom-Oakley at Turlock, Central Valley at Ceres, Oakdale at Sonora, Tokay at Patterson, Union Mine-El Dorado at Escalon, Weston Ranch at Ripon, Bret Harte at Orestimba

7:15 p.m.: Downey at East Union, Hughson at Stagg-Stockton

7:30 p.m.: Waterford at Johansen, Davis at Ripon Christian, Millennium at Denair, Delhi at Hilmar

Saturday, Aug. 24

7 p.m.: Clovis-Fresno at Modesto, Riverbank at Big Valley Christian

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Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.