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During the two hour-interview with Marin Catholic of Kentfield head football coach Mazi Moayed, the talk about his team blowing 21-0 and 35-31 leads in last year’s 38-35 loss to San Diego Madison in the CIF Division III bowl game was very brief.
It had been played out so many times before. The broken play that swung the momentum and got Madison its first score won’t change the outcome or the hurt of the loss.
Besides, Moayed was more interested in talking about the future, and about this year’s team, which he thinks could be as good as last year when the Wildcats were led by current Cal and former Elite 11 quarterback Jared Goff.
First, however, one last trip to the past is needed to reinforce how insignificant a football game can be in the overall scope of life, even a state title game.
In 2010, and two months after he was named to replace Ken Peralta as the leader of the Marin Catholic program, the 42-year-old Novato High graduate got some news, and it wasn’t good.
“I was diagnosed with high grade sarcoma,” Moayed told Cal-Hi Sports. “I had a tumor the size of a lime in my thigh and four legions in my lungs.”
Sarcoma is an adult soft tissue cancer that 60 percent of the time starts in the arms or legs.
After surgery to remove the tumor, and it was found to be malignant, Moayed’s oncologist wanted to do more surgery and start radiation treatments.
At the suggestion of his sister, Moayed read Knockout, Suzanne Somers’ 2009 book that’s about non-conventional, alternative and integrative therapies for treating cancer.
That led him to Marin County resident Burton Goldberg, who for more than 30 years has been one of America’s leading advocates for alternative medicine. After discussing it with his fiancé at the time and current wife, Lori, Moayed contacted Goldberg.
Goldberg got him interested in exploring alternatives, and Moayed took his advice.
“When I told my oncologist I was going to an alternative clinic in Orange County he got pretty angry and strongly advised against it. I prayed and asked God, ‘I know this is a surprise to me, but it’s not a surprise to you.’ I leaned on God.”
After prayers, holistic treatments that included an anti-oxidant drip treatment, an extreme transfer of diet, natural and herbal supplements, juicing, and a whole lot of support from Lori and the rest of his family, plus tremendous support from the Marin Catholic community, Moayed’s prayers were answered and today he’s remarkably cancer free.
The scary situation also hasn’t impacted the coach’s win-loss record. In fact, his 39-4 total since 2010 is the best among all active coaches in the state and is No. 2 including recently retired Bob Ladouceur of Concord De La Salle, who went 42-1.
His roots, family and football
Moayed started his coaching career at his alma mater as an assistant from 1995-1998, then assisted at College of Marin for a year before rejoining the Novato staff again as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. After five years, he moved on to coach defense at Berkeley before taking the head coaching position at San Rafael where he stayed two years. In 2008, he began a two-year stint under Peralta as Marin Catholic assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Although his teams haven’t won one, Moayed’s Marin Catholic defenses have appeared and played very well in two CIF Division III Bowl games, last season and in 2009. Besides two CIF North Coast Section titles in 2009 and 2012 at Marin Catholic, his 2002 Novato defense also captured an NCS crown.
Moayed had the strength and will to beat the big C, but sometimes it’s hard to figure how he finds the tremendous amount of time he puts into the Marin Catholic football program.
Lori is expecting the couple’s first child in February, and he has a management job with Ghilotti Bros. Contractors as the Fleet Services Manager.
“The company is very good to me,” Moayed smiled.
It doesn’t hurt that the two Ghilotti top executives, president Mike Ghilotti, and CEO Dante Ghilotti, are both Marin Catholic graduates – and Dante, a former Wildcat star football player, is on Moayed’s staff.
Outlook for 2013
The real question prep football fans want answered by Moayed is can this year’s team get back to Carson in December?
“We return three offensive starters and seven on defense, so our strength early will be our defense, but we reload with some pretty good guys on offense,” he said.
One of those guys is quarterback Morgan Mahalak. He backed up Goff last season and played quite a bit at wide receiver. Although he hasn’t had a varsity start, he got an invite to the Elite 11 Camp in Santa Clara and impressed head coach Trent Dilfer enough to be invited to Beaverton, Ore., for the final competition. He was one of just 18 nationally to get that invite.
Colleges thought enough of Mahalak that seven Division I schools offered scholarships, including Oregon, where after being recruited by new head coach Mark Helfrich, he committed.
“Back-to-back Elite 11 quarterbacks are pretty darn good,” Moayed said proudly.
Second Team All-State Junior from last year and Nevada-committed wide receiver and defensive back Andrew Celis will be Mahalak’s top target and will also anchor the defensive secondary.
Sam Killpack, a 5-10, 185-pound DB/RB who made some big defensive plays last year in the playoffs, is another top returnee who Moayed says “will kill at running back this year.”
Also back will be Nathan Bozin, a 6-3, 265-pound senior, who will anchor the offensive line; top returning linebacker Anthony Giusti; and Chris Hill, who made some big field goals late in the season, including one in a driving rainstorm in the NCS D3 title game against El Cerrito. The Navy-committed lacrosse player will also start at defensive back and see some time as a receiver.
Past, present and future
When asked who influenced him the most, Moayed says former College of Marin head coach and Marin Catholic alum Ben Partee. “He turned around the College of Marin program. He inspired me.”
After Mazi’s mother arrived from the Middle East when he was still student at College of Marin, he had to go to work so at the time he didn’t complete his education.
Since then, he’s gotten a BA in business management and as soon as the baby arrives next year he plans to obtain a Masters in athletic administration.
What about moving on to a higher level?
“I’ve gotten some calls from lower level colleges for defensive coordinator and as head coach from a high profile SoCal high school, but I’m happy here at Marin Catholic. They’ve been unbelievably supportive to me and everything I’ve been through the last three years. If the timing and opportunity arises, I’d like to become a full-time coach and educator.”
With the cancer behind him after converting on fourth-and-long, it looks like the coach and construction manager is already thinking about the future.
Meanwhile, Ghilotti’s fleet needs servicing and the two-a-days start on Monday.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend