State Coach of Year: Michael Peters

Head coach Michael Peters still lives in a house directly behind the press box at the school where he has worked for the past 33 years. Photo:

Becoming the first public school head coach to win three straight CIF state titles in the modern era also nets prestigious overall State Coach of the Year selection for Oakland McClymonds’ Michael Peters. The Warriors have been moved up in divisions for the past two state titles and for their streak to continue they’ll probably be moved up again. Peters also has to be admired for being a coach at Mack in some capacity for more than 30 years.

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The joke surrounding the shoestring budgets that inner-city high school football programs often have to be operated on has always been perhaps best summed up by Michael Peters, the head coach at McClymonds of Oakland.

“Do we have shoestrings?” Peters once quipped on a TV interview.

Some of the other shortcomings that Peters and his coaching staff have to overcome compared to what almost all private schools have and many large suburban schools include head phones that don’t always work, lockers for the players that are broken and a lack of many other bells and whistles that have become routine at many places.

Peters will have his team looking for fourth straight state title next season. Photo: Willie Eashman.

“When we played for this last state title, Garfield (Los Angeles) came up and they had big screen TVs on their sideline with Hudl and instant replays,” Peters recalled. “Our kids were like, ‘Hey, they’ve got a living room over there.’ It’s just a lack of resources and money.”

Peters and the Warriors have more than just overcome those budgetary restraints. They’ve won three straight CIF state titles, becoming the first public school to accomplish that feat since Bakersfield in the 1920s. For doing that, Peters also now has been selected as the 2018 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

There are only two others on the all-time State Coach of the Year list from Oakland. John Beam, the current head coach and athletic director at Laney College, was selected when he was coaching at Skyline in 1997. The only other one on the list is Roy Richert of Castlemont from 1941.

McClymonds’ total school enrollment of under 300 students plus its CIF divisional placement also makes Peters the 2018 State Small Schools Coach of the Year. Because of that, we needed to select a Large Schools Coach of the Year instead and that honor has gone to Ryan Partridge from CIF D1-A state champ Liberty of Brentwood. The last time a coach who was not from a large school was named State Coach of the Year was Dave Silveira from Alhambra of Martinez (medium) in 1996.

Peters was a longtime assistant coach at McClymonds (28 years) when he became head coach five years ago. Since then, the Warriors have continued to be dominant in the Oakland Athletic League and their record in those years is 63-4. That record does not include two forfeit losses in 2014.

The first of the three CIF state titles was earned in Division 5-A in 2016 when the team traveled to La Jolla in San Diego County and topped La Jolla Country Day 20-17. The 2017 team was moved up to D5-AA but was even more dominating and capped a perfect 14-0 season with a 42-12 romp past Golden West of Visalia in Visalia. This season, even though Peters and his staff had to replace 16 starters and were placed in D4-A, Mack stepped up to beat Garfield (the runner-up in the CIF L.A. City Section Open Division) 32-6 for the third straight state crown.

There were some differences in the 2018 title run and in 2017, however. This year’s team, in an effort to get more prepared for an expected rise in CIF division placement, took on several much stronger opponents. This list included CIF North Coast Section D2 finalist Marin Catholic of Kentfield, the aforementioned Liberty and Palo Alto, one of the top teams in the CIF Central Coast Section. The Warriors lost to Liberty and Palo Alto, but beat Marin Catholic in their season opener.

“Yes, that made a big difference playing those teams,” Peters said. “The goal was to not let the guys get big-headed from the state titles. And we want to see how we’d stack up against some teams from the upper levels. We didn’t think Liberty would be that high up, but they were and I think it really helped later on.”

One strength of the team that Peters knew he’d have from last spring was at running back with returning standout Jarmar Julien and transfer Adi Anderson from Moreau Catholic of Hayward. Both are D1 level prospects and both had big games down the stretch. Julien had 180 yards rushing on 22 carries in the state final, including a 75-yard TD run. Anderson also rushed for a pair of scores.

“We were concentrating more on defense in the summer and in preseason and wanted to let the offense come to us,” Peters said. “We had to find a couple of offensive linemen and when we moved two linebackers to guard that was a big step.”

It didn’t help that in late October starting quarterback K’aun Green went down with an injury. That caused Peters to insert freshman Dreyan Paul as the starter. Paul threw two TD passes in the state final.

Marcus Peters wears t-shirt supporting his former school when he was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs in a game two years ago at Oakland. Photo:

With the rest of the Oakland Athletic League struggling to field competitive teams (Mack won one game this season 94-0 and has won nine straight OAL titles), Peters and his staff have to get creative to keep the first units sharp prior to the CIF Northern California regional bowl games.

“That has been a big challenge,” Peters said. “Luckily, our JVs have been pretty good so just practicing hard with both teams has helped.”

Knowing that his team was likely going to be in a regional bowl game also gives Peters plenty of opportunities to hit the road and scout possible opponents. This year, he said he went to games involving Menlo-Atherton, Palma of Salinas and Aptos. And in that NorCal bowl game, the Warriors played Aptos and even though they were on the road they powered past the Mariners 28-20 behind Julien (21 carries for 192 yards, three TDs) and Anderson (21 for 152, one TD).

After the first two CIF state titles, the Warriors were honored with a parade in downtown Oakland (just like the Golden State Warriors of the NBA). This year, however, Peters is thinking more in terms of how the recent run of success can have more long-term benefits.

“It was a great thing for all of those people to come out an support us,” Peters said of the parades. “But it’s becoming more important get other stuff we need, like a refurbished stadium, that will help us for years to come.”

Coach Peters, of course, also is well-known as the father of All-Pro NFL cornerback Marcus Peters of the Los Angeles Rams. Marcus, who was the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year when he first came on with the Kansas City Chiefs, purchased a lettermen jacket for each McClymonds player after that first state title. Since then, his father says, he waits to find out “what we want the most” before buying anything.

“We all know he’s going to be behind us and support us,” Peters said of his son, who was an all-state player himself at McClymonds and is in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book for returning six kicks (punts, kickoffs) for touchdowns in one season.

Whether the Warriors can make it four state titles in a row and match the record of private schools De La Salle (Concord) and Central Catholic (Modesto) will depend on whether Peters can replace another high number of starters, including those two running backs.

It’s also likely that the team will be much higher on the CIF NorCal bowl games placement board next season due to a rule change by the CIF that will require only section champions to be eligible for those games. For this year’s NorCal games, Liberty, St. Francis (Mountain View) and Wilcox (Santa Clara) were all runner-up teams that were in those games and all three were much higher on the board than the Warriors.

The ultimate for Peters would be if his team could play Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in one of those NorCal games. It might have happened this year, but the Dragons didn’t participate in the NorCal bowls as their season became greatly impacted by CIF North Coast Section playoff cancellations due to smoke from the Butte County fires. O’Dowd won the NCS D2 title 16-15 over Marin Catholic.

It’s not known if Michael Peters is the first African-American to be State Coach of the Year in football, but he’s the first one we recall choosing in many years.

“I think the biggest thing for a lot of us is just working for the kids in the communities that we’re from,” he said. “That’s why I think you see a lot of (black) coaches who are alumni from their schools. They want to do what they can to help stop violence and give back.”

Congratulations to Coach Peters and to his staff for his selection as State Coach of the Year. This season was dedicated to former equipment manager Dean Hodges, who died last summer and also was one of Peters’ best friends.

The other assistants were Greg Pedemonte (offensive line), Lale Taiese (defensive line), Jason Walters (running backs), Will Blackwell (wide receivers), Damien Lyons (defensive backs), Curtis McCaulley (defensive coordinator) and Steve Roseman (special teams).

Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year
All-Time Honor Roll
(All selections by
(Based on research by the late Nelson Tennis, our founder, prior to 1979)

2017 State Coach of the Year Kris Richardson of Folsom recently resigned for an assistant’s role under new head coach Troy Taylor. Photo: Willie Eashman.

2018 — Michael Peters (Oakland McClymonds)
2017 — Kris Richardson (Folsom) 16-0
2016 — Dave White (Edison, Huntington Beach)
2015 — Mike Janda (Bellarmine, San Jose) 13-2
2014 — Kurt Bruich (Redlands East Valley) 15-1
2013 — Ed Croson (Chaminade, West Hills) 14-2
2012 — Ernie Cooper (Granite Bay) 13-3
2011 — Mike Papadopoulos (Vacaville) 13-1
2010 — Earl Hansen (Palo Alto) 14-0
2009 — Jim Benkert (Westlake, Westl. Vill.) 14-0
2008 — Mike Alberghini (Grant, Sacramento) 14-0
2007 — Ed Buller (Oak Grove, San Jose) 12-1
2006 — Bob McAllister (Carlsbad) 10-0-2
2005 — Harry Welch (Canyon, Canyon Country)
2004 — Matt Logan (Centennial, Corona) 13-1
2003 — Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles) 11-3
2002 — Kevin Rooney (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 14-0
2001 — Bob Johnson (Mission Viejo) 14-0
2000 — Jerry Jaso (Poly, Long Beach) 14-0
1999 — Mike Herrington (Hart, Newhall) 14-0
1998 — Randy Blankenship (Clovis West, Fresno) 12-1
1997 — John Beam (Skyline, Oakland) 12-0
1996 — Dave Silveira (Alhambra, Martinez) 13-0
1995 — Larry Welsh (Atascadero) 14-0
1994 — Bruce Rollinson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 14-0
1993 — John Barnes (Los Alamitos) 14-0
1992 — Mark Paredes (Bishop Amat, La Puente) 15-0
1991 — Herb Meyer (El Camino, Oceanside) 13-1
1990 — Pat Preston (Bakersfield) 13-0
1989 — Dick Bruich (Fontana) 14-0
1988 — Norm Dow (Live Oak, Morgan Hill) 11-0-1
1987 — Bennie Edens (Point Loma, San Diego) 13-0
1986 — Bob Ladouceur (De La Salle, Concord) 12-0
1985 — Charlie Wedemeyer (Los Gatos) 13-1
1984 — Tim Simons (Clovis) 12-0-1
1983 — Ron Calcagno (St. Francis, Mountain View) 13-0
1982 — Wayne Schneider (Tracy) 12-1
1981 — Marijon Ancich (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) 14-0
1980 — Bill Workman (Edison, Huntington Beach) 14-0
1979 — Ron Lancaster (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) 13-0
1978 — Jerry Deuker (Pinole Valley, Pinole) 11-1
1977 — Chris Ferragamo (Banning, Wilmington) 11-1-1
1976 — Benny Pierce (Saratoga) 13-0
1975 — Ed Lloyd (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 12-0
1974 — Dick Haines (Vista) 13-0
1973 — Dwayne DeSpain (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 12-0-1
1972 — Bob Hitchcock (Temple City) 13-0
1971 — Gene Vollnogle (Carson) 12-0
1970 — Jack Neumeier (Granada Hills) 11-1
1969 — Forrest Klein (Alameda) 9-0
1968 — Tom Burt (Los Altos) 9-0
1967 — Clare Van Hoorebeke (Anaheim) 12-1
1966 — Ernie Johnson (El Rancho, Pico Rivera) 13-0
1965 — Dick Coury (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 12-0-1
1964 — John Hanna (Bellarmine, San Jose) 10-0
1963 — Paul Briggs (Bakersfield) 9-0
1962 — Bob Berry (Willow Glen, San Jose) 9-0
1961 — Joe Marvin (Sequoia, Redwood City) 9-0
1960 — Sam Cathcart (Santa Barbara) 11-1
1959 — Dave Levy (Long Beach Poly) 11-0
1958 — Paul Huebner (Banning, Wilmington) 11-0
1957 — Johnny Johnson (Oroville) 9-0
1956 — Dick Hill (Downey) 12-0-1
1955 — Duane Maley (San Diego) 11-0-1
1954 — Aaron Wade (Centennial, Compton) 10-1-1
1953 — Milt Axt (Poly, San Francisco) 10-0
1952 — Fred Moffett (Berkeley) 9-0
1951 — Hod Ray (Palo Alto) 8-0
1950 — Ernie Busch (Merced) 11-0
1949 — Bob Patterson (Vallejo) 10-0
1948 — Harry Edelson (Fremont, Los Angeles) 9-0-1
1947 — Jim Sutherland (Santa Monica) 12-0
1946 — George Hobbs (Alhambra) 12-0
1945 — Colon Kilby (Vallejo) 10-0
1944 — Bert LaBrucherie (Los Angeles) 7-0
1943 — Larry Siemering (Stockton) 10-0
1942 — Brick Johnson (Piedmont) 7-0
1941 — Roy Richert (Castlemont, Oakland) 5-0-1
1940 — Clarence Schutte (Santa Barbara) 9-1
1939 — Palmer Muhl (Woodland) 8-0
1938 — Ras Johnson (Galileo, San Francisco) 8-0-1
1937 — Jim Blewett (Manual Arts, Los Angeles) 8-0
1936 — Harlan Lee (Red Bluff) 7-0-1
1935 — Paul Hungerford (Poly, San Francisco) 9-0
1934 — Orian Landreth (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) 12-1
1933 — Dick Arnett (Inglewood) 8-2-1
1932 — Harry Shipkey (Salinas) 11-0
1931 — Tex Oliver (Santa Ana) 13-0
1930 — John Price (Bonita, La Verne) 10-0

List continues back to 1896 in State Record Book & Almanac.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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