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Turning on the AC: Even in defeat, St. Francis’ Bonds is winner

Turning on the AC: Even in defeat, St. Francis’ Bonds is winner
St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds, here at summer football practice, returned to the sidelines last Friday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Victories are certainly measured in the standings and on scoreboards.

For the St. Francis High football program, though, last Friday counted as a triumph and a defeat.

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The Golden Knights overcame myriad mistakes and a whole lot of inexperience to rally for an 18-point, second-half deficit in their season opener versus Manhattan Beach Mira Costa and led, 22-21, with 2:50 left.

A game St. Francis should have lost, and then should have won, ultimately turned into a defeat, 27-22, as the host Mustangs scored a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play and then held off the visitors.

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Although much needs to be fixed for St. Francis going forward, one positive was the return of head coach Jim Bonds to the sidelines.

On May 21, the St. Francis High football twitter account announced that Bonds had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The post immediately drew an outpouring of support.

That tweet alone generated nearly 600 likes, retweets and responses.

The treatable disease is described by the American Cancer Society as a “cancer of plasma cells” that affects the immune system.

Bonds has undergone treatments since the spring and still has at least two left this year.

The treatments and recovery cut into much of Bonds’ preseason.

“It was pretty much hit or miss and I missed most of spring ball and then I made it to a few events in the summer, but I wasn’t there every day,” Bonds said.

There was no guarantee that Bonds would be on the sidelines last Friday night or any other, but his appearance wasn’t just reassuring to his players, but to the St. Francis faithful.

“To see him out there makes the community feel a little better,” St. Francis basketball coach Todd Wolfson said. “He’s a pillar, everyone knows and respects Jim Bonds and his health was most important. So, to see him back out there on a Friday, it’s great.”

Golden Knights athletic director Matt Luderer said there was a plan had Bonds not been available to coach, a scenario he’s happy didn’t play out.

“There’s certainly several experienced assistant coaches who could have taken over, but who can replace Jimmy?” questioned Luderer. “He seemed confident recently that he’d be on the sidelines and I didn’t question it. He had me worried for about a minute in the summer and I’m glad he’s back.”

Friday’s season-opening defeat was the first for the program since 2007.

Days after the setback, Bonds was still appreciative of coaching and of being distracted from his real fight with cancer.

“Just being back with my team for fall camp and to be with my coaching staff brings back some normalcy for me,” Bonds said. “Just getting the juices flowing and being back out there on a Friday night, a game atmosphere, was pretty awesome. I’m just excited to be able to do what I do and it’s such a great place it just takes my mind off other things for a while.”

St. Francis opened the season with a setback on the field, but certainly not on the sidelines.

Just as I’m sure St. Francis will bounce back, I’m also convinced that Bonds will land the biggest victory of his career soon: his triumph over multiple myeloma.

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