More State Football Coaches of Year

State Small Schools Coach of the Year Nick Velazquez of Orland is shown (left) celebrating with players and fans. At right is State Medium Schools Coach of the Year Jeff Bailey of Yorba Linda. Photos: JCouchot_Sports / & Magic Moments Sports Photography.

Here are the honorees from among those schools considered medium or small schools for the 2022 season. Our medium schools honoree already has been named Orange County Coach of the Year and just won his 150th game. Our small schools honoree directed his team to one of the historically greatest seasons in his CIF section’s history.

Congratulations to the following two California coaches for joining Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year Bryan Nixon as additional honorees for accomplishments by their teams during the 2022 football season. To read more about Coach Nixon, CLICK HERE.

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Medium Schools
State Coach of the Year
Jeff Bailey (Yorba Linda)

We’re pretty sure that this hasn’t happened before: The State Coach of the Year and the State Medium Schools Coach of the Year for the same season faced each other in a CIF regional final. It is a little odd, but it also exemplifies the seasons and coaching careers that Bailey has had at Yorba Linda and Bryan Nixon has had at Liberty of Bakersfield.

Jeff Bailey has been the head coach at Yorba Linda since 2010. Photo:

For the record, Liberty is considered a large school from the highest division of the CIF Central Section. Yorba Linda was D3 for the Southern Section and has generally been considered medium schools. Hence, the justification for one coach being the large schools coach of the year and the other medium schools.

Bailey’s team lost its only game in the CIF SoCal D1-A playoff game to Liberty, 41-28. That did little to dim the enthusiasm for what Yorba Linda did in its season, which saw the Mustangs get to 14-0 and win the CIFSS D3 title. Keep in mind that in 2016 when Bailey’s team won a CIFSS title at Yorba Linda it was in D7 and D3 was a division that was won in the state final last year by Serra of Gardena.

The Mustangs had an experienced senior-laden team led by QB Reyn Beal and tackling machine Wyatt Mosier. They had several impressive wins during the regular season, but in the CIFSS D3 playoffs is where they really shined. Yorba Linda had to play 10-0 Charter Oak of Covina in its first first playoff game and won, 31-21. Playing Corona del Mar of Newport Beach (from the same league as D1 Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach Edison and a team that beat CIFSS D4 champ Downey) in the semifinals was another test. In that one, Bailey’s squad impressed with a 51-20 triumph. It was tougher in the final vs Upland, but a late field goal gave the Mustangs a 9-6 win.

That victory over Upland also was the 150th for Bailey’s career. This includes five seasons at El Dorado of Placentia from 2004 to 2008 and then being head coach at Yorba Linda since 2010. The CIFSS title also was the fourth of his career (two at El Dorado and now two with the Mustangs).

What we didn’t know at the time of Bailey’s 150th win was his overall record. That was later reported at 150-41 counting the El Dorado seasons. It’s a win percentage of 78.5 and it was added to our new state record category of best win percentages for coaches in state history with 150 wins or more. The only other coach from Orange County on that list is retiring Santa Ana Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson at 79.6 percent.

Speaking of Orange County head coaches, Bailey already has been chosen as the OC Register’s Coach of the Year. It also is the first medium schools state coach of the year from the county since Scott Meyer of Corona del Mar in 2013 (the year that the Sea Kings went 16-0). The previous honoree before that was Ray Fenton of Cypress for 2007, who later became the head coach and is still at Los Alamitos. Another on the all-time list is Dick Coury of Mater Dei, which in 1957 believe it or not was medium schools. Coury later was Bruce Rollinson’s head coach for the Monarchs.

As you can tell, we can get carried away with all the history. For Jeff Bailey in 2022, he and his team at Yorba Linda pushed themselves up to be a big part of it.

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

2021 – Marlon Gardinera (San Diego Scripps Ranch)*; 2020 – Mazi Moayad (Marin Catholic, Kentfield)*; 2019 – Mike Moon (Pacifica, Oxnard); 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).
*Games played in spring 2021 due to pandemic. Gardinera also was the overall State Coach of Year.

Small Schools State Coach of the Year
Nick Velazquez (Orland)

No one will ever know if the Orland High football team would have won the CIF D5-A state title against Shafter on a dry field or on an all-weather surface. No one also will ever know if the Trojans would have won their CIF Northern Section title if longtime small school power Sutter had not joined a different section (Sac-Joaquin) for this season.

Nick Velazquez talks to members of Orland community during celebration event after state title was won. Photo:

But what we do know about what Velazquez and his team accomplished this season was pretty freakin’ awesome.

Orland is a school that is more than 100 years old and in 2022 the Trojans won their first-ever CIF state title with the 20-7 victory over Shafter. They also completed the school’s first unbeaten season since 1961 and their 15-0 record finished as the best win-loss record of any school in California for the season.

Velazquez, who moved up from defensive coordinator to head coach five years ago, already has been selected as the CIF Northern Section Coach of the Year (including all schools). It was just two years ago, for the spring pandemic season, when the Northern Section last had the State Small Schools Coach of the Year, which went to Sutter’s Ryan Reynolds. Before that, however, the most recent honoree from the section was Matt Hunsaker from Central Valley of Lake Shasta in 2005. Others from the section on the all-time list, which goes back to the 1950s, include the legendary Mort Kaer of Weed (1963) and the only other one from Orland itself, Marshall Latimer, for the 1959 season.

Despite what eventually happened, Orland’s championship season was not an easy road. In the D3 section championship, the Trojans were unbeaten but faced the D4 champ from the previous season, University Prep of Redding, which had a loss to West Valley of Cottonwood but had avenged it. Orland came out on top in that game, 33-19, and then in the CIF NorCal D5-A final it was the Trojans meeting Clear Lake of Lakeport, another team with one loss but also a team that was coming in after recording a big win over unbeaten St. Vincent de Paul of Petaluma. Orland won that game, 42-21. In the state final, the Trojans trailed Shafter (the CIF Central Section D4 champion) by 7-0 in the early going, but dominated in the second half and won, 20-7.

Grant Foster was the focal point of the Orland team as a player. He was a running quarterback and finished with 2,028 yards rushing and 32 TDs. He also had a pick six in the state final.

Shafter head coach Jerald Pierucci wasn’t happy after the game since Orland doesn’t have an all-weather field and a rainy storm hitting Northern California that night helped turn the grass field into a mud bowl. Pierucci’s comments went viral and did it so quickly that CIF officials were talking about it before the CIF Open Division state final was even over down in Southern California (the last game there started two hours after the NorCal state finals began).

Instead of focusing on the field at Orland, which may or may not have made a difference, we’re going to focus on the team and its head coach. They obviously turned many folks in that community to tears and wonderment for years to come for what they did.

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

2021 – Rick Davis (Jackson Argonaut); 2020 – Ryan Reynolds (Sutter)*; 2019 – Chris Musseman (Ripon); 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).
*Games played in spring 2021 due to pandemic.

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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