News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

Coaching Deans of Area Football

By Joe Torosian

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El Monte –

On September 12, 2003, lots of things happened. Some were life changing, much were just the simple every day things of life. People got stuck in traffic, soldiers were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, students were counting the days until Christmas vacation, a presidential race getting ready to start, and the local teams started playing football.

The El Monte Lions won their first season opener since 1999 by taking a 19-7 decision from the La Puente Warriors at McIntosh Field. Back at B.L. Bergstrom Stadium the Temple City Rams were hammering a young Arroyo Knights team 28-14.

The Temple City head coach that night was Mike Mooney out of USC. The La Puente head coach that night was Matt Koffler out of USC. You know about those guys. You might remember that the TC quarterback was Donny Deltiempo or that the El Monte quarterback was Amilcar Archilla.

In September of 2003 Larry Hatley was in second year leading the Rosemead Panthers, Gil Ruedaflores was in season number 15 at Alhambra, Keith Jones in a few months would have San Gabriel on the map for the first time in football, Jon Dimalante was running another high power offense at Arcadia with Audarrius Bailey.

El Monte on the other hand was breaking in their fourth head coach since 1999, Joel Sanchez. Arroyo was getting its first glimpse at Jim Singiser, the first new HC to lead the Knights in three decades.

It’s eleven seasons later and everyone else is long gone. Multiple coaches have come and gone, multiple generations have come and gone, but now eleven seasons later just these two remain.

Speaking to both of those coaches that season two quotes have come back to me from that time.

Sanchez was taking over an El Monte program that didn’t know how to win. When it comes to football culture, there was no football culture at El Monte. There were some sparks in 2003, a near upset of Knights, and a 4-0 start in 2004 but the road for Sanchez and staff was crooked, long, and high.

“If you’re going to have a program, the first thing you’ve got to have is your own stadium,” said Sanchez in 2003.

For Singiser the road has been just as long, but with different terrain. Arroyo had one continually over the decades. Former H.C. D.J. Mac Kinnon had built a local dynasty that included a playoff appearance every season from 1985 forward (a streak that is still intact today), CIF title appearances, and a CIF title.

At the conclusion of his first game Singiser, when told he had a talented team in sophomore quarterback Dominic Salmon and wide receiver Sergio Leon, plus a powerful back in Raul Ramirez, spoke in his gentle explosive manner.

“What I have is a bunch of football players who need to understand that they are not playing J.V. football anymore, but varsity football. We’ll see.”

Countless Mission Valley League titles, a semifinal appearance, a brilliant run of quarterbacks, and a near upset of a state champion team last have confirmed the believers and hushed the critics that thought “His Arroyo Baldness” couldn’t get it done.

For the Lions they got the stadium, the next step was making the generations believe. A playoff appearance in 2008 was unfortunately followed by brutal 2009 campaign. From an outsiders perspective if there was ever a time to say it can’t be done, this was the time.

Instead 2010, 2011, and 2012 have been some of the most entertaining years in the history of El Monte football. Back to back playoff appearances, its first piece of a league title since 1979, and the emergence of the best running back (Michael Jimenez) and quarterback in school history.

Time. Everything in our microwavable world tells us we have to have it now. It needs to come with the flip of a switch, the snap of a finger, or with the spoken word. The truth, however, speaks to something different.

Time teaches you don’t pick lotto numbers to get a winner…a character coaches, solid citizens, program builders can’t build, confirm, nor affirm something over night. It takes time.

So as the season wears on, as a fan, take notice of 11 seasons and appreciate what you have. Coaches with an “11” on their resume, either in wins or years don’t grow on trees or come ready after 30 seconds in the micro.

Appreciate it…Appreciate the time it all takes.

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
Coaching Deans of Area Football