More State Football Coaches of Year

Mike Moon (left) raises CIF title trophy after Pacifica of Oxnard won CIF D2-A state title over McClymonds of Oakland. At right, Ripon’s Chris Musseman had a nice view from a firetruck during team’s victory parade through the town. Photos: Mark Tennis.

Here are the honorees from among those schools considered medium or small schools for the 2019 season. Our medium schools honoree directed one of the highest scoring teams in state history. Our small schools honoree also did something as a player in the 1980s that only a handful of players from Northern California over the the past 40 years have experienced. Go inside to see more and lists of previous winners of these honors for the last 10 to 15 years.

Congratulations to the following two California coaches for joining Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year Jason Negro from St. John Bosco of Bellflower as additional honorees for accomplishments by their teams during the 2019 football season. To read more about Coach Negro, CLICK HERE.

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Medium Schools
State Coach of the Year
Mike Moon (Pacifica, Oxnard)

Doing what Moon has done to bring such excitement to a school that hasn’t had such excitement before is deservedly bringing himself some attention. He’s already been named the L.A. Times Coach of the Year and now is the Medium Schools State Coach of the Year.

Moon’s squad won the CIF Division 2-A state title last week with an overwhelming 34-8 victory over an Oakland McClymonds squad that was 11-0, had the longest current winning streak in the state and was going for a fourth straight state title. He becomes the second Medium Schools Coach of the Year from Ventura County in three years, following Josh Henderson of Simi Valley Grace Brethren for 2017. Before that, however, there hadn’t been a Ventura County coach on the medium schools coach of year all-time list (that goes back to the 1940s).

In the state final, the Tritons had only allowed 68 yards of offense to McClymonds by the middle of the fourth quarter (the record for yards allowed in any state final is 51), but the final total of 112 still ranks among the best.

Moon’s team, however, will be more known for offense and point scoring. The Tritons ended with 784 points in their 16 games, which will go down seventh on the all-time state list. Blessed with a lot of talented returning starters in which Moon convinced them to stay together for something special, they opened the season with outputs of 63, 65 and 70 points in easy wins. They also rolled past CIF L.A. City Section Open Division champ Birmingham of Lake Balboa 51-23 in the CIF SoCal D2-A regional bowl game.

Pacifica’s only loss was 35-27 to arch-rival Oxnard, but senior quarterback R.J. Maria praised his coach and the coaching staff for how they reacted to it.

“We didn’t really start to go up-tempo until after that game,” said Maria in an interview after the state championship game. “It took a tough loss to make us better.”

Moon’s son, Isaiah, scored one of the back-breaking touchdowns for Pacifica in that last game on a pass from Maria and was one of the team’s top receivers during the season.

Moon came to the school in 2013 after serving as an assistant at Rio Mesa of Oxnard. His teams enjoyed three straight successful seasons at 9-2, 8-4 and 9-3 after that first team only won four games. There also was a struggling 2-9 season from just two years ago, but after this year and last year’s 11-2 squad all of that is a distant memory.

Recent Cal-Hi Sports Medium Schools
State Coaches of the Year

2018 – Mark Cooley (Pleasant Valley, Chico); 2017 – Josh Henderson (Grace Brethren, Simi Valley); 2016 – Trent Merzon (Oakdale); 2015 – Mike Moschetti (La Mirada); 2014 – Kevin Macy (Campolindo, Moraga); 2013 – Scott Meyer (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach); 2012 – Rick Jackson (Madison, San Diego); 2011 – Rick Prinz (Paradise); 2010 – Paul Cronin (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa); 2009 – Sean Doyle (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego); 2008 – Lou Farrar (Charter Oak, Covina); 2007 – Ray Fenton (Cypress); 2006 – Eric Reis (Manteca); 2005 – Robin Luken (Lompoc); 2004 – Rob Gilster (Valley Center); 2003 – Tony Martello (Colfax); 2002 – Tom St. Jacques (Lassen, Susanville).

Small Schools State Coach of the Year
Chris Musseman (Ripon)

For leading a small roster of less than 30 players from a true small school from a small town to the CIF D4-AA state title is all that’s needed to add Musseman’s name to an all-time list that already includes plenty of names from similar towns up and down the state.

Part of the reason for Ripon’s success is the competition that the Indians face from similar programs and communities in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s Trans Valley League. Two of those schools also have had the State Small Schools Coach of the Year recently: Mark Louriero of Escalon for 2010 and Frank Marques of Hilmar for 2008.

The lack of players on the roster was only a problem when Musseman had to juggle the lineup for several games due to injuries, including the team’s lone loss to Hilmar. The Indians came back when they were more at full strength and defeated Escalon (when the Cougars had risen to No. 1 in the state for small schools). They didn’t lose again. They faced an unbeaten Center of Antelope team in the SJS D5 championship that was unbeaten, enjoyed a significant enrollment advantage and was projected to win. Musseman’s team won that game, 21-13, then knocked off unbeaten Sutter in the NorCal D4-AA final and then nipped Highland of Palmdale (with 2,900 kids but also placed in D4-AA by the CIF bue to competitive equity) 31-28 in the state final on a last-second field goal by Nathan Valdez.

“Coach did a great job utilizing all of the talent we had,” said Ripon senior Danny Hernandez, one of the team’s most versatile players, just after participating in a parade through Ripon last Friday. “He really worked with all of the players with all of the injuries and made everyone into a starter themselves. He definitely motivated us by all of the team principles.”

Musseman has a background unlike most who get to the point of their careers when they are getting statewide accolades. He was a walk-on for one season at Ole Miss and also for one season at Cal-State Fullerton (in the last season before that program was ended). But he didn’t go directly into coaching. According to an article on the site, Musseman sold paint and lumber for a time and also ran a sandwich shop for a few years in Antioch. He eventually decided to try teaching and has been a teacher at Ripon since 2001. He started coaching there as well a few years later and had been an assistant football coach for 10 years until taking the top job four years ago.

Musseman also was a player himself at Monte Vista High of Danville. He was on the 1987 Mustangs’ team that finished 13-0 and won the CIF North Coast Section Division I title. Think about that for a second. Isn’t that the same division won every year by national super power De La Salle (Concord)? Yes, it is and Musseman’s team beat the Spartans 14-13 to win the NCS title. DLS won it again in 1988, 1989 and 1990, lost to Pitt in the final in 1991, and won its 28th in a row this season.

One of the biggest plays in that 1987 NCS final was a fake punt that the Mustangs pulled off to score a touchdown. They were trailing 7-6 in the second half of that game, when a player took a handoff from behind and between his legs on what was supposed to be a punt. That player ran to his left while the punter faked as if he was going up for a high snap. The player with the ball instead ran for a 45-yard touchdown. That player is now our 2019 State Small Schools Coach of the Year.

History does have a way of coming around in a circle.

Recent Cal-Hi Sports Small Schools
State Coaches of the Year

2018 – Michael Peters (McClymonds, Oakland); 2017 – David Griffiths (Big Bear, Big Bear Lake); 2016 – Jim Kunau (Rancho Christian, Temecula); 2015 – Tom Crawford (Bishop Diego, Santa Barbara); 2014 – Roger Canepa (Central Catholic, Modesto); 2013 – Matt Oliver (Christian, El Cajon); 2012 – Pete Lavorato (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton); 2011 – Jon Ellinghouse (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth); 2010 – Mark Louriero (Escalon); 2009 – Jack Moyer (Fort Bragg); 2008 – Frank Marques (Hilmar); 2007 – Kim Jorgensen (Ferndale); 2006 – Travis Brackett (Novato); 2005 – Matt Hunsaker (Central Valley, Shasta Lake); 2004 – Rich Cotruvo (Justin-Siena, Napa); 2003 – Mike Glines (Central Catholic, Modesto); 2002 – Coley Candaele (Carpinteria).

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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