A week ago we received a pair of distressing phone calls.
The first was from Rodriguez High Assistant Principal John Pizzo letting us know that Sarj Singh was out as Mustangs football coach and was being replaced by interim coach Berwyn Hutcherson.
A short while later, Vacaville High principal Ed Santopadre called to tell us that longtime assistant coach Steve Green had died an hour or so earlier after a long battle with cancer. Green had coached and taught English at Vacaville since 1979.
Pizzo couldn’t elaborate on Singh’s removal because it’s a personnel matter and that’s not really the focus here.
It simply means that Hutcherson will be Rodriguez’s sixth head coach in the last six seasons.
Go back six coaches at Vacaville and you find Al Tomasini, who led the Bulldogs from 1955 to 1957. The last game he coached was a 20-13 loss to St. Vincent’s on Nov. 15, 1957, 22 days after I was born.
My son turned 15 on Tuesday and in his lifetime Rodriguez has had eight head coaches.
Vanden plays its 50th season this fall and has had only five coaches in its history: Ed Serpas, Ron Beverly, Kevin Luckey (twice), Rich Woods and LeVon Haynes.
The contrasts in longevity, patience and continuity are stunning.
Green was never varsity head coach of the Bulldogs, but he was a huge part of their success, physically and emotionally, for parts of five decades. During his tenure, the orange and black won 13 Monticello Empire League and two Sac-Joaquin Section titles, making 14 playoff appearances.
He is irreplaceable, but if there’s any school equipped to fill the void, albeit in different ways, it’s Vacaville.
Green was one of several Bulldogs coaches with more than a decade with the program and no doubt there are many more capable of stepping up if the need arises.
Vanden is similarly fortunate in that Haynes is a former Vikings player and assistant and has several on his staff with longtime ties to the school.
Meanwhile, the reinvention of the wheel goes on at Rodriguez. Each new coach has brought in his own assistants making the transitions look like postgame handshake lines at the 50-yard line, the incoming and outgoing groups headed in opposite directions.
With such confusion and turnover, it’s impossible for Rodriguez to land or hold onto any Steve Greens, if it were possible for there to be more than one of him.
Here’s hoping the revolving door stops with Hutcherson and that the coaching stability and community support of it can finally match the level of talent that’s seemingly at Rodriguez every year.
Memorial for Green in works
Former Vacaville football player Jon Feld is among those who are working toward raising funds to have a memorial for Steve Green at Zunino Stadium. Feld has designed a T-shirt depicting Green and his trademark “Who you rootin’ for?” chant.
Those wishing to purchase a shirt or to make a donation can go to www.CoachGreenMemorial.com.
Players to watch named
Maxpreps.com has come out with its annual list of players to watch and a few city players – from Fairfield and Vanden only – are on it.
Falcons coach David Fishleigh listed senior quarterback Michael Arredondo, senior receiver/defensive back Demetrus Spears, senior lineman Tyler Connely, and junior running backs/linebackers Damonni Quinney and Billy Jones.
Vikings players on the list include senior linebacker Elijah Williams, senior wide receiver Dion Williams and senior defensive back/running back Billy Hurst.
Twin seniors David and Daniel Mewborn, who are running backs/defensive backs, are mentioned from Vacaville, while Wood players listed include senior tight end/defensive end Ryan Nules, senior linebacker/wide receiver Aaron Herbert and junior defensive back /wide receiver Roddrick Douglas.
Rio Vista players on the list are senior fullback/defensive back Chace Marlow, senior tackle/linebacker Tyler Gomes and senior wingback/strong safety Tanner Layton.
Numbers up and down in state
According to results of a survey released by the California Interscholastic Federation, participation in high school sports increased 0.08 percent in the state to 758,474 students.
Water polo saw the largest increase at 2.8 percent, followed by cross country (1.9) and track (1.4). Softball had the largest decease (1.7 percent), followed by tennis (1.5), basketball (1.0) and wrestling (0.7 percent).
Football has the most participants at 102,505, but showed a 0.5 percent decrease, down from 103,088 in 2012.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.