State Coach of the Year: Matt Dunn

St. John Bosco head coach Matt Dunn (left) holds CIF D1 state championship trophy in the press room at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. He’s shown at right hugging graduating senior Jack Turner near the end of the game against San Ramon Valley of Danville. Photos: Mark Tennis & Mark Bausman / For OC Sports Zone.

For winning at a high level in a terrific league and becoming just the fourth coach in CIF history to win state titles at two different schools, Matt Dunn from St. John Bosco of Bellflower has been named the 2024 State Coach of the Year. From a historical view, however, just winning an outright league title in 2023 may be even more impressive, considering the program that the Braves had to beat.

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It wasn’t surprising that the talented team at St. John Bosco of Bellflower lost to Trinity League rival Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the program’s first meeting of the season on January 6 at Arena in downtown Los Angeles. It was the manner in which the Braves lost that came to the legendary program, 83-62, that turned heads. St. John Bosco was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game, most notably crisp teamwork and shooting (5-of-20 from 3-point range). It was surprising to head coach Matt Dunn, whose team was highly-regarded coming into the season and had already played in many pressure-filled games away from the friendly confines of its cozy home gym.

The Braves came into the season ranked No. 2 in the state behind defending CIF state open champ Harvard-Westlake of Studio City and for a time it looked like the season might get away from Dunn and St. John Bosco. The individual talent was playing like that (as individuals) and not complementing each other. Mater Dei went on to win the ultra-competitive Trinity League, but it was the Braves who bounced back and jelled in the regional playoffs to capture the CIF D1 state title, beating their archival in the process.

For leading his team to a coveted state title and for his sustained success, which now includes CIF state titles at two different programs, Bosco’s Dunn has today been named 2023-24 State Coach of the Year. Against a terrific national schedule, St. John Bosco finished 28-7 and No. 3 in the state while defeating four state-ranked clubs in the regionals to win the CIF D1 crown.

St. John Bosco head coach Matt Dunn has helped turn the Bellflower school into a basketball powerhouse close to what it does in football. Photo: Inside the Wubble /

In the January loss to Mater Dei, St. John Bosco had a paltry three assists. In the CIF D1 state title game vs. San Ramon Valley of Danville, however, the Braves were credited with 17 assists. The play of Loyola-Chicago bound Jack Turner, junior Elzie Harrington and sophomore Brandon McCoy was noticeably crisper and more effective as the season wore along, even after losing 6-foot-8 junior Kade Bonam to a shoulder injury in the playoffs. Dunn and his coaching staff not only had to motivate his star players to empower their teammates, he also had to tinker with his starting lineup more than once to get the best out of his team, as Bonam was the leading scorer in the first half of the season but ended up missing 15 games. Those adjustments and the develop of players such as junior Chris Komin also played a role in the selection of Dunn.

“Oh wow, it’s an incredible honor, thank you very much,” Dunn told Cal-Hi Sports when notified of his selection.

Dunn is the fourth coach from the CIF Southern Section to earn this honor in five years. One of those was Dave Rebibo of CIF Open Division state champ Harvard-Westlake, who was not selected for this year since no one has ever been State Coach of the Year for our all-time lists more than once. who The only time the honoree came from one of the other nine sections in that time frame was last season, when Mike Hansen of Dougherty Valley in San Ramon was chosen. The last time a coach from the Southeast Region of Los Angeles County has been honored prior to Dunn was back in 1982-83, when Jorge Calienes from Bosco Tech of Rosemead was selected.

Dunn’s high school coach at Carmichael Jesuit, Hank Meyer, was the choice in 1993-94, when Dunn played on a talented team that won the NorCal D1 championship for the second consecutive season, but had the misfortunate of running into L.A. Crenshaw teams that captured two of the program’s eight CIF state titles. That season Jesuit went 31-7, while Dunn’s club went 28-7 this year.

“As I look back, coach (Meyer) was ahead of his time in many ways, specifically practice planning and offense identity,” Dunn said. “I still use many of the things we did in high school in those two areas. The first time I ever really coached was when I ran the JV and coached two summer league JV teams at Jesuit after my freshman year of college. (Hank) really trusted me and let me learn.”

Dunn got his official start as an assistant at St. Augustine of San Diego, before getting his first head gig for the 2001-02 season at Villanova Prep in Ojai. In two seasons, he compiled a 27-23 mark before moving on to Damien of La Verne in 2003-04. At a competitive program in a good league, the 1995 Jesuit graduate went 252-108 in 12 seasons. The University of San Diego graduate (who actually started coaching at Saints while still in college and later got his masters in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University) is now 196-60 in nine seasons at Bosco, meaning he’ll likely win his 500th career game (475-191) sometime during his 24th season as a head coach in 2024-25, provided Bosco finishes in the upper election of the Trinity League once again.

“Coaching is about relationships, I have always wanted my players to know I care more about them the person than I do the player,” Dunn said about the differences in coaching at Villanova Prep compared to the pressure cooker of the Trinity League. “I think there are so many more voices involved in players’ lives now. When I first started I was the coach, the individual workout guy, the strength coach, the academic tutor and more…now those roles are all filled by different people and many more, so it takes a different approach to form those relationships.”

Under Dunn, Bosco has been ultra-competitive in the Trinity League that Mater Dei has dominated over the years. In fact, Bosco has been terrific at home in recent seasons, winning six consecutive game overall vs. the Monarchs. Of course, that doesn’t include this year’s game at the Coastal Catholic Classic at the L.A. Lakers’ home arena that kick started the Braves’ run to the program’s second state title.

Last season, the Braves handed Mater Dei its first league home loss at the Meruelo Athletic Center (opened in 2006-07) and swept the Monarchs while ending their 34-year league winning streak by capturing the league title outright. At home, the Braves have now won their last five consecutive league contests versus the 11-time CIF state champions and got the big win vs. the Monarchs in the friendly confines of their home gym in this season’s SoCal D1 regional final. Since Gary McKnight took over the Mater Dei program, only two coaches have beaten him six times or more: legendary L.A. Crenshaw coach Willie West (6) and Dunn, who got his seventh win in the regional playoff game that sent his team to Sacramento to play for the CIF D1 state crown.

In addition to this year’s state title, Bosco also captured the CIF SoCal Division I-AA title in 2021 when the season started late in the school year and there were no CIF state championships. At Damien, Dunn led his program to the 2015 CIF D3 state crown, before the advent of competitive equity, and the CIFSS D3AA title in 2013. By capturing state titles at both Damien and St. John Bosco, Dunn is now just the fourth coach ever to win state titles at two different programs, joining Frank Allocco (Walnut Creek Northgate & Concord De La Salle), Harvey Kitani (L.A. Fairfax & Rolling Hills Prep) and Steve Singleton (Compton Dominguez & Eastvale Roosevelt).

Those marks and milestones put Dunn in some exclusive coaching company and today he joins another exclusive group.

“The talent of players today is incredible; I think the job of coach of talented players is less about X’s and O’s and way more about helping kids understand how to make their teammates better,” Dunn said. “I thought our best players really figured out how to do that at a high level in the state playoffs.”

They did really figure it out and it made all of St. John Bosco’s players look better, as well as prove the lessons their coach was trying to instill about teamwork and trust really work. The job Dunn did didn’t go unnoticed and it culminated with the state’s highest coaching honor.


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

Mike Hansen of San Ramon Dougherty Valley was honoree for the 2023 season. Photo: 49ers Cal-Hi Sports.

2024 – Matt Dunn, Bellflower St. John Bosco (28-7)
2023 – Mike Hansen,
San Ramon Dougherty Valley (27-4)
2022 – Mike LeDuc, Damien La Verne (31-4)
2021 – Josh Giles, Corona Centennial (21-2)
2020 – Dave Rebibo,
Studio City Harvard-Westlake (25-7)
2019 – Jonas Honick, Ross Branson (31-3)
2018 – Dave Kleckner, Etiwanda (30-4)
2017 – Arnold Zelaya,
San Francisco Mission (35-1)
2016 – Russell White, Encino Crespi (33-4)
2015 – Chuck Rapp, San Mateo Serra (23-6)
2014 – Doug Mitchell,
Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-6)
2013 – Mike Haupt,
San Diego St. Augustine (29-4)
2012 – Bill Mellis, Richmond Salesian (33-2)
2011 – Eric Cooper, La Verne Lutheran (27-5)
2010 – Dwan Hurt, Gardena Serra (34-2)
2009 – Steve Johnson, Rialto Eisenhower (31-4)
2008 – Dwight Nathaniel, Oakland McClymonds (32-0)
2007 – Harvey Kitani, Los Angeles Fairfax (28-5)
2006 – Peter Diepenbrock, Palo Alto (32-1)
2005 – Pete Newell, Santa Cruz (36-1)
2004 – Don Lippi, Alameda St. Joseph (28-6)
2003 – Zack Jones, San Diego Horizon (32-1)
2002 – Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester (32-2)
2001 – Vance Walberg, Fresno Clovis West (31-3)
2000 – Frank Allocco, Concord De La Salle (31-1)
1999 – Clinton Williams, Oakland Fremont (28-4)
1998 – Jerry DeBusk, Rancho S.M. Santa Margarita (32-2)
1997 – Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph (31-4)
1996 – Russell Otis, Compton Dominguez (34-2)
1995 – Steve Filios, Mountain View St. Francis (27-8)
1994 – Hank Meyer, Carmichael Jesuit (31-7)
1993 – John Barrette, Palo Alto (31-0)
1992 – Tom Orlich, South Tahoe (30-1)
1991 – Tom McCluskey, Tustin (30-4)
1990 – Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara (28-0)
1989 – Willie West, L.A. Crenshaw (25-2)
1988 – Reggie Morris, L.A. Manual Arts (27-3)
1987 – Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-1)
1986 – Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (31-5)
1985 – Stephen Keith, Glendale (28-0)
1984 – Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly (31-2)
1983 – Jorge Calienes, Rosemead Bosco Tech (25-5)
1982 – Dick Acres, Carson (26-2)
1981 – Maury Halleck, Santa Barbara San Marcos (25-1)
1980 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (24-2)
1979 – Dave Shigematsu, Oakland Castlemont (23-3)
1978 – Ben Tapscott, Oakland McClymonds (22-3)
1977 – George Terzian, Pasadena (29-3)
1976 – Bill Armstrong, Palm Springs (22-4)
1975 – John Mihaljevich, Palos Verdes (24-6)
1974 – Dan Risley, Elk Grove (30-0)
1973 – Tom Conway, Stockton Stagg (28-0)
1972 – Tom Cleary, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (27-2)
1971 – George McQuarn, L.A. Verbum Dei (29-2)
1970 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (32-0)
1969 – Gordon Nash, La Mesa Helix (29-2)
1968 – Ralph Krafve, East Bakersfield (29-0)
1967 – Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (37-2)
1966 – Len Craven, Whittier Sierra (28-1)
1965 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (21-2)
1964 – Bill Mulligan, Long Beach Poly (32-1)
1963 – Bill Armstrong, Compton (27-4)
1962 – Dick Edwards, Sacramento El Camino (23-1)
1961 – Paul Harless, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1960 – Bill Thayer, L.A. Fremont (17-1)

List continues back to 1920 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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One Comment

  1. Mike fereday
    Posted March 26, 2024 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Congratulations ! Your dad would be so happy and proud !

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