With many of our season honors, including state coaches of the year, soon to be announced, it’s also the time when we update the all-time state coaching leaders list to include all reported results from the 2022 season.
The biggest news was the retirement of Santa Ana Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson, but we also had the 14th coach in state history win his 300th game. This year’s updates also include a new addition to our all-time state records: Highest Winning Percentages With 150 Wins or More.
To check out our updated Gold Club list of California’s all-time winningest football coaches (all with 200 wins or more) plus new added category for best winning percentages, CLICK HERE.
To check out our updated Gold Club list of every California coach with two more CIF state titles, CLICK HERE.
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(All listed in alphabetical order)
Ken Batdorf (Norte Vista, Riverside)
After his team lost in a 2021 CIFSS playoff game that would have given him his 200th win, Batdorf had to wait until the second game of this season for a victory against Western Christian of Upland. The Braves went on to finish 7-3 for the regular season and then won twice in the CIFSS D9 playoffs before a 42-35 loss to eventual champion Laguna Beach. Batdorf has been the head coach at Norte Vista since 1994 and his teams are known for having prolific running backs, including Eric Melesio, who rushed for 4,459 yards (2nd most in state history) during 14-game season in 2016.
Kurt Bruich (Citrus Valley, Redlands)
There were a lot of fun facts when Bruich won the 200th game of his career. The first was that the team he got it against, Redlands East Valley, also happens to be his former school. Bruich coached there from 2001 to 2017 and in 2015 won the CIF D2 state title. The other was that he and his father, Dick, became the first father-son duo on the all-time state list of those with more than 200 wins. The elder Bruich won 292 games at Fontana High and Kaiser of Fontana. Kurt tweeted out when he saw that info: “I guess my new goal is 293.”
Jeff Carnazzo (Palma, Salinas)
There also were some a very cool fun facts that happened when Carnazzo earned his 200th victory at Palma when the Chieftains defeated Aptos on a last-second field goal. The win came against Aptos’ Randy Blankenship (who despite the loss had a 9-3 season), a member of the 300-win club. Carnazzo’s predecessor at Palma, Norm Costa, also won 200 games exactly at that school but his higher on the all-time list since he won 58 at two smaller Catholic high schools (now closed) in Santa Cruz County. Carnazzo added one more win to his total after the Aptos game, but his team then had to face Serra of San Mateo in the first round of the CCS D1 playoffs and as expected was routed. Carnazzo took over for Costa in the 2000 season and has made winning 10 games in a season look routine.
Dominic Dimare & John Joyner
(San Marin, Novato) & (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista)
These two were only head coaches of teams that repeated as a CIF state champion for the 2022 season. Dimare’s Mustangs did it in D4A this season and in D5A for 2021. Both of Joyner’s back-to-back state titles were won at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo in D2AA. Joyner also moved up on the state list since it was his third state title overall.
Bill Foltmer (Middletown)
With a win on Oct. 21 by the Mustangs over Cloverdale, Foltmer became the 13th coach in state history to win 300 games in a career. He only needed four wins to get there at the start of the season and it was an up-and-down squad. It also was an up-and-down game that got it done, too. Middletown recovered a fumble to get the ball back against Cloverdale and won it, 36-29, on a TD run by Jacob Urbina with just 25 seconds left. Foltmer has been at Middletown, which is in the the CIF North Coast Section, since 1985 and before that coached for several seasons at Princeton High in the CIF Northern Section.
Rob Gilster (Valley Center)
The coach with the second most wins on the all-time state list after Bruce Rollinson of Mater Dei who is retiring after this season is Gilster. His teams at Valley Center have always been known for grit and determination. This year’s team wasn’t among his best, but he’s leaving as one of the most successful coaches in CIF San Diego Section history.
Josh Henderson (Immanuel, Reedley)
Thanks to a tip from Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo head coach David Schuster, it became known late in the season that Henderson won the 200th game of his career on Sept. 30 with a win by the Raiders over Reedley High. Schuster is a former assistant coach with Henderson and thought his friend might have passed the milestone. It was checked out and he did. Henderson had much success at Grace Brethren of Simi Valley from 2010 to 2019, but also did well at Aquinas of San Bernardino (2000-2008) and had seasons before that at now closed Ambassador Christian of Fontana and L.A. Baptist.
Trent Merzon (Oakdale)
Another of those retiring is Merzon, who has been rock-solid with the Mustangs since his first season in 2000. This year’s team was only 6-5, but was in the same league as Manteca and Central Catholic and did get a big season-opening win in overtime over Sonora High. Merzon ended his career with a 78.3 win percentage and 225 victories. It’s one of the top win percentage marks for a coach with more than 150 wins in Sac-Joaquin Section history.
Jason Negro (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
The architect of the Bosco program captured his and the school’s fourth CIF state title with a 45-0 shutout win over Serra of San Mateo in the CIF Open Division state final. Negro is now tied for third for the most CIF state titles won by a football coach. He is on track to win his 200th game next season. The Serra win was No. 192. Ironically, head coach Patrick Walsh of Serra also was at 191 entering the state championship game. Negro’s winning percentage of 85.3 for his career, which began with seven seasons at Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo, also is No. 3 in state history for those with 150 wins or more.
Kevin Pearson (Warren, Downey)
For the second time in his career, Pearson had to navigate the attention of a major college type quarterback. He did it the first time at his previous school, Cathedral of Los Angeles, for the freshman and sophomore seasons of future Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. He did it this season with Nico Iamaleava, who is headed to Tennessee. Pearson also had one of his best teams, which went 9-2 with close losses to Serra (Gardena) and Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) and beat its rivals from Downey High (the eventual CIFSS D4 champion). The nine wins enabled Pearson to jump 18 others on the all-time state list this year, which was the biggest jump among any of the active coaches.
Bruce Rollinson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
The numbers that Rollinson obviously wanted to get to at the close of his illustrious career leading the Monarchs was four (CIF state titles), 31 (winning streak), 13-0 (unbeaten record) and 340 (number of wins not including forfeits). A 24-22 loss to St. John Bosco in the CIF Southern Section D1 final at the Rose Bowl prevented all of that, but it still was a great final season for the 73-year-old retiring head coach. Rollinson’s team not only topped Bosco in the regular season, but also won in a matchup at Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, which was another top 10 national team. In many national rankings, the Monarchs were considered second only to their league rivals. Rollinson finishes No. 3 on the all-time state wins list and No. 1 for Orange County. There have been discrepancies that needed to be checked for former El Toro and Mission Viejo head coach Bob Johnson. That has been done and Johnson’s total has been revised to 338. Rollinson’s total for our records is 339.