In addition to overall State Coach of the Year David Jeans from De La Salle of Concord, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2023 season going to Matt Mowry from Birmingham of Lake Balboa (medium schools) and Stewart Peterson of Sutter (small schools).
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MEDIUM SCHOOLS STATE
COACH OF THE YEAR
Matt Mowry (Birmingham, Lake Balboa)
This is the first time ever than an L.A. City Section coach has been selected for this category, but that’s also because prior to about 10 years ago the section’s top team was considered large schools. With the continued evolvement of private schools in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere, the L.A. City’s leading teams have been medium in recent seasons.
Mowry was therefore an easy choice for this selection, and while it’s impossible not to know the personal and family death that he’s gone through since September of last year, he’s been considered for numerous coaching honors before and has been widely respected throughout the state.
Mowry’s squad this year won its fourth L.A. City Open Division title in the last six years with a 3-1 victory at Dodger Stadium over Carson. It was an emotional scene at the end (not unlike the one we saw with a player from De La Salle of Concord who lost his mom to breast cancer three weeks earlier hitting a go-ahead, two-out grand slam homer in the NorCal D1 final) as Birmingham players and coaches hugged Mowry. His wife, Amy, died last September from breast cancer. She also was a counselor at the school and knew most of the players very well.
Birmingham went on to the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs after the city title and lost in the first round, but the Calabasas team that the Patriots lost to, 3-1, went on to win the title.
In addition to the four L.A. City titles in six years, Mowry also has five overall since he began coaching at Birmingham 17 seasons ago. He’s second on the all-time section list to Tom Muesborn of Chatsworth, who won eight there before he retired (and is now unretired back coaching at Sierra Canyon in the CIF Southern Section).
Muesborn also is the last one from the L.A. City Section to be a State Coach of the Year. He was named in 2001 (overall & large schools) after a 31-2 season. We never do coaching honors repeats so he wasn’t chosen after the 35-0 season in 2004. Others from the L.A. City Section on the all-time list include Birmingham’s own Bob Zuber for 1964. The Patriots of course were still the Braves then and went 18-1 overall.
Mowry already has been honored as the L.A. Times Coach of the Year. It is just hoped that these types of honors show Coach Mowry and son Nolan (will be a senior next season at Chaminade of West Hills) and his older daughter Kyla that a lot of folks will continue to think about them as they continue to navigate this first year without Amy.
Last 13 State Medium Schools Coaches of the Year: 2022 – Tony Nieto (Las Flores Tesoro); 2021 – Daniel Maye (Simi Valley Royal); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Pat Fuentes (Los Banos); 2018 – Ken Arnerich (Alameda); 2017 – Rich Henning (Christian Brothers, Sacramento); 2016 – Jeff Baumback (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2015 – Mike Mitchell (El Cajon Christian); 2014 – Ollie Turner (Torrance); 2013 – Wilmer Aaron (Gardena Serra); 2012 – Steve Vickery (Lakeside El Capitan); 2011 – Gary Remiker (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2010 – Rich Sciutto (Burlingame); 2009 – Bob Anderson (Lake Shasta Central Valley).
SMALL SCHOOLS STATE
COACH OF THE YEAR
Stewart Peterson (Sutter)
It was a tough act to follow for Stewart Peterson when he became Sutter High’s baseball coach in the 2015 season. His predecessor, Mark Renfree, had directed teams to 22-2, 29-3 and 27-2 records in the three previous seasons.
Not much has changed for the Huskies, but this year Peterson’s team won a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title in the school’s first year as a new member of that section and the squad also added its first-ever CIF NorCal D4 title. As a result, and with 20-win seasons for each of Peterson’s teams in which there were section playoffs in all of his eight seasons, he is being honored as State Small Schools Coach of Year.
None of this would have happened if the Huskies had not won two nail-biters late in the season. In the SJS D5 final, Sutter needed 13 innings to clip Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento, 4-3, and then in the NorCal D4 semifinals the Huskies erased a 5-0 deficit to Hillsdale of San Mateo with four runs in the sixth and two in the seventh for a 6-5 win. Sutter then won the NorCal crown with an easier 10-1 victory over Gridley.
All three of Peterson’s first teams at Sutter in 2015, 2016 and 2017 won CIF Northern Section titles with records of 28-6, 22-9 and 24-8. The Huskies lost in the playoffs in 2018 at 21-9-1, but came back in 2019 to win it and finished 26-8. After the pandemic wiped out 2020, the team returned in 2021 but there were no playoffs to perhaps add to a 19-8 final record. In Sutter’s last season in the Northern Section, Peterson’s club went 23-7-1 and won a section title.
Although Sutter is now in the SJS, we’ll refer to the last two Northern Section coaches who have been Small Schools State Coach of the Year: Eric Lay of Colusa for 2021 and Jeff Ingles of Winters for 2003. The small schools category was begun in 1998.
Last 13 State Small Schools Coaches of the Year: 2022 – Kurt Takahashi (Sacramento Bradshaw Christian); 2021 – Eric Lay (Colusa); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Greg Mugg (Sunnyvale The King’s Academy); 2018 – Mack Paciorek (Pasadena Poly); 2017 – Jim Cleveland (San Lorenzo Redwood Christian); 2016 – Troy Ghisetti (Arcata); 2015 – Nelson Randolph (Sacramento Capital Christian); 2014 – Jay Preuss (Kerman); 2013 – Gil Ruiz (Pacific Grove); 2012 – Greg Largent (Escalon); 2011 – Craig Schoof (Atherton Menlo School); 2010 – Glen Prater (Riverside Woodcrest Christian); 2009 – Brad Gunter (Roseville Valley Christian).