New prep football coaches ready to tackle challenges
New faces abound this year on high school football fields around Sonoma County — and it’s not just the student-athletes. Four new coaches take the helm at North Bay League and Vine Valley Athletic League league schools.
Terence Bell replaces Tom Harris at Piner, Hervy Williams replaces Bob Midgely at Sonoma Valley, Shaun Montecino tries to rebuild the Healdsburg program, and former Piner head coach John Antonio will lead his hometown Casa Grande team in Petaluma after Denis Brunk left.
All four have challenges ahead of them to win games, with all but Casa turning in losing records last season. Casa was 4-2 in league play but 4-7 overall.
Both Bell and Williams are teachers at their schools, which they say allows them time to build better relationships with the athletes, parents and administrators. Antonio, a police officer, is Casa’s school resource officer, giving him access to students as well. Like Bell, Montecino was a junior varsity coach before moving up.
Here is an introduction to this year’s new coaches:
Hervy Williams, Sonoma Valley
“I feel like my connection with the kids is a game changer,” Williams said. “Working on campus, seeing them day in, day out helps with recruiting. I am trying to reach out to the Latino community and make sure they feel comfortable on the football field.”
Williams said he brings new energy with which he hopes to reinvigorate the team, which finished 3-4 in the Vine Valley Athletic League and 4-7 overall last season.
A special education coordinator at Sonoma Valley, Williams was JV coach for the past five years. He said the football booster club has bought new jerseys for the team.
“We want to turn the whole program around so they will be proud to be Dragons,” he said. “We’ll start with a whole new look.”
Players are learning that fitness doesn’t happen overnight and they’re going to have to work at it, Williams said.
Last year’s varsity team started with about 25 kids, but dwindled by the end of the year. Williams said many of his JV team of about 45 last year have come out this season.
“I’m working with other coaches to share athletes since we’re a small school,” he said. “We create relationships with the kids, teach them that multi-sport athletes is what we need.”
Terence Bell, Piner
Bell, a Piner grad, played receiver at Santa Rosa Junior College and the University of Hawaii.
Returning home, he was a teachers assistant for two years and a full-time teacher for the past three years, being awarded Teacher of the Year honors last year.
He said he will use some of the same skills he hones as a special ed teacher to boost the football team’s confidence after last year’s 1-3, 4-6 showing in the North Bay League-Redwood Division.
“I see their potential, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “I’ve coached other places, but the potential here at Piner is crazy. If you can get someone in their corner, it can be great.”
Although practices only began Aug. 5, Bell said he’s seeing good signs from his Prospectors squad.
“We have the confidence back,” he said. “They’re learning how to win football games. You gotta learn the right things to do.