Palo Alto passing tourney set for June 11

Serra Leki Nunn will be among the talented players at the Paly passing tourney June 11.

Serra Leki Nunn will be among the talented players at the Paly passing tourney June 11.

By John Murphy 

Palo Alto High is running its third annual passing tournament June 11.

There will be four pools of five teams.

The tourney has been a big success in the past, with the intent to replace the Stanford tournament formerly run the same weekend.

Here are the schools set to play so far:

Amador Valley, Bishop O’Dowd, Christopher, Foothill, Fremont,

Half Moon Bay, Kings Academy, Leigh, Liberty, Menlo School,

Menlo-Atherton, Modesto, Mountain View, Oak Grove, Palo Alto,

Patterson, Pioneer, St. Francis, Serra.

Ward is new Leland football coach

Leland Charger logo

By John Murphy 

Mike Ward is the pick as the new football coach at Leland High. Ward was an assistant coach last season with the Chargers.

Leland went 1-9 last season under interim coach Kyle Ansberry.

“I’m really excited – it’s my first head coaching position and I’m not looking to move on,” said Ward, 32. “I want to build the program. It has a good tradition and has the support of the administration and the faculty and students and community as a whole.”

Ward is from Baltimore and is a big Orioles’ baseball fan. He played high school football at Loyola Blakefield, a Catholic school. He also played soccer and football at Lycombing College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Before assisting at Leland he assisted for four years at Coral Springs Charter in Florida, helping the program to go from a 3-7 record to 11-1.

Ward met his wife Kristi, a Pioneer High graduate, at grad school at the University of Miami and they decided to move to the Bay Area to be closer to his wife’s family and possibly start a family of their own. Kristi (maiden name Kimura) played basketball and tennis at Pioneer and was also on the track and field team.

Ward said he will fit his offense to the Charger personnel but that one possibility is to run a Pistol or shotgun formation with a West Coast Offense out of that.

The Chargers went 6-6 in 2014-2015 under coach Jake Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy is now an assistant coach at Burlingame.

Leland had its last winning season in 2013-2014 under Shaughnessy, going 7-4 overall, 5-2 in league.



College-bound student-athlete workshop at HMB Monday night

Matt Spigelman (with ball), an HMB player who will likely play in the fall at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Matt Spigelman (5), an HMB player who will likely play in the fall at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

By John Murphy 

There is a college-bound student-athlete workshop for Half Moon Bay High School freshmen and sophomore student athletes, parents and coaches at 6:30 p.m. Monday (Jan. 25) in the multi-use room of the high school.

Coastline resident Scott Schuhmann, a former assistant football coach under the late Bill Walsh at Stanford and later an assistant athletic director on The Farm, will conduct the workshop. According to the school web site Schuhmann will “guide those in attendance through the beginning steps of the college selection and recruiting process.”

There will also be a question-and-answer session with a panel of senior student-athletes who will continue their athletic careers in college.


Halas resigns to spend more time with young sons; Palo Alto seeking new coach

Palo Alto will have a new football coach again in 2016.

Palo Alto will have a new football coach again in 2016.

By John Murphy 

Palo Alto High School, the CIF-State Division I playoff bowl champs in 2010, is again looking for a new football coach.

It joins cross-town Gunn in advertising for a new leader for its program. Jake Halas has been the Vikings coach the past two seasons, compiling an 8-15 overall record, including a 5-7 record in 2015. He has resigned.

“I have stepped down as head coach,” Halas said by email. “Several factors contributed to this difficult decision. But the bottom line was family. With three young boys at home, I felt it was time to redirect my focus.

“I’m just taking a break for a while. I still have a lot of coaching left in me. I plan to continue teaching PE here at Palo Alto High while supporting the school any way I can.”

Palo Alto joins cross-town Gunn High in the ranks of schools looking for a new head football coach. At Gunn, coach Shinichi Hirano also resigned, as has been reported by multiple media outlets.

Halas’ brood at home includes twins. He resigned from the Paly softball job he held for five years when they were born. The young coach also stepped down as D coordinator after another son was born a few years after the Vikings won the state playoff bowl title, only to return as head coach when Earl Hansen retired after the 2013 season.

The Vikings won a playoff game in 2015, defeating a formidable Salinas team 42-38. Paly was then eliminated from the playoffs the following week by SCVAL-De Anza foe Milpitas, 42-0.

The veteran Earl Hansen retired following a 6-6 season in 2013. Three years earlier, on Dec. 17, 2010, Paly pulled off a monumental upset under Hansen, defeating Centennial-Corona 15-13 in the state playoff bowl title game, played in the rain and mud of the Home Depot Center in Carson. The Vikings’ 14-0 record was the best in school history.

Centennial entered the game 14-0 and ranked fifth in the nation and had, at that time, the most prolific offense in state history, averaging 54.8 points per game.

Halas had a big hand in that upset, as he served as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator under Hansen from 2008 to 2012.

No doubt a fond memory for Halas, in addition to the playoff victory against Salinas in 2015 and the stunner against Centennial, was his first win as the head Vikings coach, coming on a last-ditch field goal at Terremere Field in Redwood City against rival Sequoia.

Rivals heap praise on Bellarmine’s Janda for state coach of year award

It was a season to remember for Bellarmine College Prep coach Mike Janda. -- Photo courtesy of

It was a season to remember for Bellarmine College Prep coach Mike Janda. — Photo courtesy of

By John Murphy

Bellarmine College Prep’s Mike Janda this week was named the state coach of the year by CalHiSports, prompting rival coaches to heap even more praise on the highly decorated coach.

“I have only known him for a year, but he runs his program like a true teacher,” first-year Archbishop Riordan coach Kevin Fordon said. “(He) doesn’t have the biggest or most athletic kids, but always gets results. He’s a humble guy (and) just wants to see his kids become better.”

Said Serra coach Patrick Walsh:

“There are few people in all of CCS football and now the state of California who demand the level of respect that coach Janda does. He is a man of utmost integrity and class. It’s easy to talk about a man for what he is and what he does individually. But coaches carry an additional burden — we are judged not only by what we do and say, but how our teams perform.each year.

“Year in and year out you are going to get from a Bellarmine football team: Disciplined, tough, classy, respectful and a team that will never quit, all character traits of the man who leads them.”

Janda in 2015 led the Bells to a WCAL co-title, a CCS Division I championship and a NorCal Division I-AA NorCal Regional title. The Bells’ only losses were an upset defeat to Mitty and a state title bowl loss to Mission Viejo.

Said Janda to Prep2Prep following the 28-0 setback in the rain last month to Mission Viejo: “It was a great season. We were CCS champions, WCAL champions and Northern California champions. That’s pretty darned good and I’m really, really proud of our players.”

Janda also notched his 270th victory with a dramatic 42-35 overtime NorCal Regional win at Folsom. In beating Folsom, the Bells snapped the hosts’ 30-game winning streak and 43-game home-winning skein.

The Bells (13-2) won the most games in the history of their storied program, including numerous contests in pulse-pounding fashion including the Folsom game, which turned on a late interception by Vince Fernandez.


Prospect seeks new football coach; AD takes over softball program

Prospect High will be taking aim at opponents under a new coach in 2016.

Prospect High will be taking aim at opponents under a new coach in 2016.

By John Murphy 

Prospect High is seeking a new head football coach, said athletic director Jason Potmesil this morning.

“I met with coach (Mike) Suarez and we mutually agreed we’d go in a different direction,” Potmesil said. “We want to change the culture and see what we can do with the program. It’s not so much wins and losses as the culture – we want to figure out if we can make some changes.

“We might get someone in with a different philosophy and outlook who can figure out how to get everyone more involved, on top of their schoolwork (etc.).”

Suarez coached the Panthers for six years, including the 2015 season when they finished 2-8. Overall, Suarez managed a 21-38-1 record at Prospect.

The 1998 Prospect grad has also been an assistant basketball coach at his alma mater.

“It’s going to be a new chapter with a new opportunity (ahead),” Suarez said. “I have a lot of love for the program and I wish it well. It’s been a great experience and journey and I’m appreciative that I had it and I look forward to more success for the Panther program.

“It’s going to be a tough transition, but hopefully my hard work will pay off and the freshmen, sophomores and juniors (still in the program) will be able to leverage what they learned and it will help them succeed.”

Suarez also quipped he “heard the 49ers are hiring” in reference to coach Jim Tomsula’s ouster from the San Francisco NFL team.

Suarez was an off-campus coach.

The Prospect job is open to in-district candidates first as pertaining to the so-called “Rialto Rule” which is a state-wide hiring preference for qualified, certificated, in-district candidates.  Then the job will be open for all after that, if need be.

In other Prospect news, Potmesil is the new softball coach, replacing Celine Kealiinohomoku who is moving on. Also, senior girls soccer goalkeeper Sarah Sawatzky has committed to St. Mary’s College in Moraga.



MURPH’S PLACE: Somber 2015 behind him, Pierleoni pushes ahead



By John Murphy

The year 2015 was tinged in sorrow for Christopher High’s Tim Pierleoni, but the educator and father of four is doing what he knows — moving forward.

Still saddened by the passing of his wife Jennifer shortly before the end of football season, Pierleoni has endured, regrouped and has now returned to the Christopher High School football program as head coach, said Cougars athletic director Ryan Dequin.

Following a loss to Hillsdale on Sept. 25, Pierleoni told his team his wife Jennifer was fighting breast cancer and he was stepping down as coach for the rest of the season. It was a difficult moment, but the coach explained that to remain as coach would only short-change the team and his family.

Aaron Bembry filled in as coach and the team finished 2-8, including an 0-6 record in the meatgrinder Monterey Bay League-Gabilan.

Pierleoni did return from his sabbatical for one cameo against rival Gilroy on Oct. 16, as Christopher defeated the Mustangs 37-14 in the Severance Bowl. It was a night to remember for Pierleoni, a Gilroy High grad.

“I love the kids and I love what I do,” he told the Gilroy Dispatch after the game. “Now I’m going to go back and love my wife with all I have and be with her as much as I can. We’re going to fight a battle that we need to fight.”

Sadly, Jennifer Pierleoni lost that battle shortly before the end of the football season.
The memorial service was held in the Christopher High School gym a week later and was well-attended.

“It was a sad situation,” Dequin said. “But there was a good turnout and now we’re keeping her memory alive.”

The Christopher football team on senior night did its part, saying prayer before the start of the game and releasing pink balloons in Jennifer’s honor.

Pierloeni, 53, had promised to return to the program at some point, and now he’s made good on that promise.

“My wife passed and now I’m getting back to what I do, which is to coach,” he said. “I keeping myself as busy as I can.”

The coach has four children, including two who are adults. Three of them are at home – Taylor (18), Nico (15) and Trenton (10). The other is Lauryn (28).

The Friday Night Lights are part of the fabric of this family.

“My kids enjoy being around the team,” Pierleoni said. “I’ve been a coach for 31 years and it’s part of our lifestyle.”

Gilroy is still a relatively small town and throughout the ordeal it did what small towns do in times like these – embraced the coach.

“It’s been huge — unbelievable,” Pierleoni said. “It was more than I can even tell you. They’ve been bringing food to us since she got sick which was in July. The church, community and school have been great.”

The teacher and coach took a month off work and his sister, Carol Bundock, traveled from Yuba City and spent four months with Pierleoni and his kids, taking some of the pressure off him.

Now he’s back to work and getting into the swing of things with the football program he started at Christopher when the school opened seven years ago.

“It’s been good to get my mind on other stuff,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to deal with – it’s not easy to watch your wife deteriorate and die. Now my No. 1 concern is my kids and also doing my best to get this program in order.”

Mike Parodi was the coach of the Hillsdale team that defeated Christopher in September, moments before Pierleoni announced to his team he was stepping aside. The Knights won that game 41-0, though the result seems so frivolous in comparison to off-field happenings.

Four months later, Parodi thinks football will be therapeutic for Pierleoni.

“It’s great,” The Knights coach said. “I think he did the right thing at the time to step down. Coming back will be good for him – it will be a healthy thing to be around another group of people he cares about and that cares about him.”

Saddened but strengthened by the experience, Pierleoni moves forward.

“I learned a lot from my wife (through her fight),” he said. “She was a special person and an inspiration. I’m taking what I learned from her to push through this.”

John Murphy is the Web Content Manager of Prep2Prep. Reach him at Follow on Twitter: @PrepCat

Burlingame’s Palu, M-A’s Rodgers nab top honors in All-PAL-Bay football

Burlingame stadium lightsLeipeli Palu was named Offensive Player of the Year on the All-PAL-Bay football team and Menlo-Atherton’s Bryce Rodgers was named Defensive POY.

Here is the team, including the top honorees:

Offensive Player of the Year: Leipeli Palu (Burlingame) Sr.

Defensive Player of the Year: Bryce Rodgers (Menlo-Atherton) Sr.

Utility Player of the Year: Devin Grant (Aragon) Sr.

Special Teams Player of the Year: Jordan Mims (Menlo-Atherton) Jr.

Co-Coaches of Year: Adhir Ravipati (Menlo-Atherton), John Philipopolous (Burlingame)


Mason Randall (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. QB

Jordan Mims (Menlo-Atherton) Jr. RB

Lepeli Palu (Burlingame) Sr. RB

Lapitu Mahoni (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. RB

Epeli Mataele (Menlo-Atherton) Jr. OL

Alex Furr (Burlingame) Sr. OL

Tomislav Medan (Aragon) Jr. OL

Justin Harmon (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. OL

Alan Pohahau (Sequoia) Sr. OL

Andrew Daschbach (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. TE

Devin Grant (Aragon) Sr. WR

Jeovani Garcia (Burlingame) Sr. WR

Nick O’Donnell (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. WR

Eli Frazier (Sequoia) Sr. WR

Thomas Kervick (Sequoia) Jr. PK


Bryce Rodgers (Menlo-Atherton) Sr. DL

Marcus Gershenberg (Menlo-Atherton Sr. DL

Bassil Mufarreh (Burlingame) Sr. DL

Cameron Dulsky (Sacred Heart Prep) Sr. DL

Stavro Papadakis (Menlo-Atherton) Jr. LB

Angelo Pera (Terra Nova) Jr. LB

Charles Stephenson (Burlingame) Sr. LB

Faavae Brown (Sequoia) Sr. LB

Jack Gray (Menlo-Atherton) Sr. DB

Cooper Giondraux (Burlingame) Sr. DB

Anthony Sandoval (Aragon) Jr. DB

Vinni Ferrari (Burlingame) Sr. DB

Dylan Calderon (Menlo-Atherton) Sr. punter

Wilcox’s Andrade MVP of All-SCVAL-De Anza football team

Cros Chavez was among the honorees as the All-SCVAL-De Anza team was named.

Cros Chavez was among the honorees as the All-SCVAL-De Anza team was named.

Wilcox quarterback Eduardo Andrade was named MVP of the All-SCCAL-De Anza football team, while Milpitas’ Cros Chavez was named MVP offense and Los Gatos’ Colt Doughty MVP defense.

Here is the team, including the top award winners:

Most Valuable Player: Eduardo Andrade (Wilcox) Sr.

MVP Offense: Cros Chavez (Milpitas) Sr.

MVP Defense: Colt Doughty (Los Gatos) Sr.

Senior of the Year: Miles Beach (Los Gatos)

Junior of the Year: Hesekaia Finefeiiaki (Wilcox)

Sophomore of the Year: Tariq Bracy (Milpitas)

Freshman of the Year: Justin Scrempos (Milpitas)

Outstanding QB: Hunter Bigge (Los Gatos) Sr.; Justin Hull (Palo Alto) Sr.

Outstanding RB: Manu Turituri (Wilcox) Sr.

Outstanding WR:  Eli Givens (Palo Alto) Sr.

Outstanding Lineman: Christian Haangana (Milpitas) Sr.

Outstanding OL: Tafua Mataele (Milpitas) Sr.

Outstanding DL:  Toa Iafetea (Milpitas) Sr.

Outstanding ILB:  Michael Pyle (Milpitas) Sr.

Outstanding OLB: Jake Holton (Los Gatos) Sr.

Outstanding DB: Ryan Gault (Los Gatos) Sr.

Utility: Jordan Hendy (Fremont) Sr.


Quarterback: Oliver Svirsky (Milpitas) Sr.; William Liddle (Saratoga) Jr.

Running Back: Dejuan Crummie (Milpitas) Sr.; Alex Hawks (Saratoga) Sr.; Paul Jackson III (Palo Alto) So.; Rajah Ward (Homestead) Jr.; Jordan Howell (Los Gatos) Jr.

Wide Receiver: Devin Crummie (Milpitas) Sr.; Vinny Faylor (Saratoga) Sr.; Kian Ghelichkani (Saratoga) Jr.; Max Dorward (Palo Alto) So.; Riley Schoeben (Palo Alto) Sr.; Ryan Wilcox (Los Gatos) Jr.

Offensive Line: Paolo Baquilod (Milpitas) Sr.; Jeremiah Creamer (Fremont) Jr.; Jesse Chung (Saratoga) Jr.; Troy Henderson (Palo Alto) Jr.; Matt Terbet (Los Gatos) Sr.; Mark Shaheen (Los Gatos) Sr.; Joseph Bowles (Wilcox) Sr.; Rhodel Lacsamana (Wilcox) Sr.; Jonathan Tomoka (Wilcox) Jr.

Defensive Line: Brent Baculi (Milpitas) Sr.; Adam Camp (Saratoga) Sr.; Aaron Vogel (Saratoga) Jr.; Tonga Latu (Palo Alto) Sr.; Moala Tautuaa (Palo Alto) So.; Bruce Fua (Fremont) Sr.; Jake Kenney (Wilcox) Sr.; Robbie Saulus (Wilcox) Sr.

Defensive End/OLB: Peter Snodgrass (Palo Alto) Jr.; Joe Kinderman (Homestead) Sr.; Make Tonges (Los Gatos) Jr.; Shawndre Smith (Milpitas) Sr.

Inside Linebacker: Jarred Green (Milpitas) Sr.; Tak Nishi (Palo Alto) Sr.; Shaun Pike (Palo Alto) Sr.; Kylend Howard (Homestead) Sr.; Gabe Fuentes (Wilcox) Sr.

Defensive Back: D’Zhane Walker (Milpitas) Sr.; Tai Nguyen (Milpitas) So.; John Macaulay (Milpitas) Sr.; Jordan Schilling (Palo Alto) Jr.; Max Dorward (Palo Alto) So.; Harry Hibberd (Los Gatos) Sr.

Placekicker: Cesar Silva (Milpitas) Sr.; Utility: Dominic Faria (Homestead) Sr.

Boy names Wolfie leads Bell charge

Wolfie Rehbock gives his old pal (since third grade) Antonio Garcia a lift after a Bell score.

Wolfie Rehbock gives his old pal (since third grade) Antonio Garcia a lift after a Bell score.

By John Murphy

Wolfie Rehbock doesn’t have the biggest name on the Bellarmine offense, just the most interesting one.

Rehbock on Friday night will line up at left guard for Bellarmine (13-1) when his team meets Mission Viejo (15-0) at Sacramento State for the state Division I-AA bowl title game. It will be the final chapter of an odyssey that’s taken William Wolfgang Rehbock from son of an Archbishop Mitty star athlete to the cusp of state glory.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Rehbock (6-foot-3, 255 pounds). “Our goals were to win the WCAL and CCS. We knew with so many returnees that if we played our best game, nobody could beat us. It’s great to come back from last year and achieve our goals.”

Last season the Bells had a chance to share the WCAL title but lost their league finale to Serra and had to settle for third place. They also fought their way into the CCS Open title game against upstart Sacred Heart Prep with a dramatic win against Milpitas. But SHP stunned the Bells 14-0.

The disappointments just steeled the resolve of the seniors coming back.

“We’re a brotherhood,” Rehbock said. “All summer we worked out at 7 a.m. and it was tough, but we worked together, side by side. We have a bond.”

That bond and resolve was tested time and again this season, never more so than last week. Bellarmine was down by seven points with three minutes left and had a fourth-and-12 on the 49-yard of Folsom, winners of 30 straight game overall and 43 on their home blue turf.

No prob. Troy Martig hit Vince Fernandez for 24 yards and then Rehbock’s buddy Antonio Garcia scored on the next play to tie the game en route to an eventual Bell victory, the historic 270th of coach Mike Janda’s career.

“We’re comfortable in those situations,” Rehbock said. “I never thought to myself ‘We could lose the game here.’ We just stayed calm and Troy made the pass and the rest is history.”

The Bells' three-year varsity players: (L-R)  Josh Bringuel, Kyle Macaulley, Jacob Bergstrom, Wolfie Rehbock.

The Bells’ three-year varsity players: (L-R) Josh Bringuel, Kyle Macaulley, Jacob Bergstrom, Wolfie Rehbock.

Speaking of history, Rehbock’s unusual middle name is a nod to his German ethnicity and also emanates from the movie “Amadeus” that portrays musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“We wanted to name him Wolfgang, but made his first name Williams in case Wolfgang was too edgy,” Heidi Rehbock, mom of the player. “So he’s named after Mozart. It’s a good, strong German name. But he’s always just been “Wolfie.”

Rehbock’s father, Bill, was a star football and basketball player at rival Mitty (the only team to beat the Bells this season), but son obviously did not follow in dad’s footsteps.

“I grew up in Los Gatos, but I shadowed (observed classes) at Bellarmine my eighth grade year,” Rehbock said. “I had more friends going to Bellarmine and that was the last time Bellarmine made state in football and so I decided to go to there.”

He hasn’t looked back and has been rewarded for his choice many times over this magical season, including when he helped veteran coach Janda reach a milestone. The Bells look up Janda as both a coach and as a person.

“Coming here was the best thing that could have happened to me as a player,” Rehbock said. “It meant so much to help coach Janda win his 270th game and become the all-time win leader in CCS. It was an incredible moment. He’s so knowledgable about the game and he helps mature us on and off the field.”

The Bell offensive line has been vital. Left tackle Jacob Bergstrom, Rehbock, center Isaac Oshana, right guard Bobby Facchino and right tackle Noah Clark have helped Bellarmine score 33 points a game this season, including 37.8 per game during their past five games.

“We have a lot of experience and we’re good friends off the field,” Rehbock said. “We have chemistry.

“The guys that make the plays (Martig, Garcia, Kyle Macauley, Devon Buenrostro, Vincent Fernandez etc.) deserve the credit, but they know they wouldn’t have the same success without the linemen doing the dirty work. It’s a team sport and we all do a great job representing Bellarmine.”

The two-way lineman and baseball player also reps the Bells off the field. He has a 3.8 grade point average,loves kids and spends some of his free time working with the disabled and impoverished.

Rehbock was a big kid growing up, too heavy to play Pop Warner without dieting. His mom fed him sugar-free popsicles as a youngster and picked him up early from birthday parties before the cake and ice cream.

The big guy still likes his groceries, too.

“OMG,” Heidi Rehbock said. “I have a freshman (Wyatt) too. There are days I have to go to the grocery store twice. Wolfie takes an Igloo cooler to school every day, filled to the top with food. On the days with morning workouts, he’s gone for 10-11 hours.”

Growing up the kids was a sports nut who can still name every NCAA Division I mascot, including Air Force (Falcons) where he plans to play next. Though at 260 pounds, it’s anybody’s guess how he’ll fit into one of those leather flight jackets.

The guy they call Wolfie can be a bit of a squirrel as well. Before his first high school game against De La Salle, Rehbock was on the bus when he realized he forgot his cleats.

“He was PANICKING!” Heidi Rehbock said. “Try finding a store with size 15 football cleats in stock, especially before 9 a.m. on a Saturday. One of the trainers was still at school, found (the cleats) in the locker room and saved the day.”

Rehbock has repaid the school and then some. The team has already had its awards banquet and Rehbock and Bringuel were co-winners of the Billy Schmidt Award, which goes to an athlete in each sport who displays the morals and leadership that Bellarmine looks for in a young man.

“Winning the award was a huge honor for Wolfie,” Heidi Rehbock said.

Friday night at Sac State, another honor awaits. Rehbock is ready.

“Practices have been electric this week,” he said. “Everyone’s excited – players, students, alumni. I can’t think of a better way to go out than to play at such a great venue with so much on the line.”

John Murphy is the Web Content Manager of Prep2Prep. He may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PrepCat 

Wolfie Rehbock has had reason to smile during a banner 2015 season.

Wolfie Rehbock has had reason to smile during a banner 2015 season.