The top five high school coaches from the 2017-18 school year were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department.
1 Esteban Chavez, Flintridge Prep girls' and boys' soccer — It was a season of statistical splendor, eye-popping dominance and historical bliss for Flintridge Prep’s girls’ soccer team and head coach Esteban Chavez.
However for Chavez, in what is likely to be an oft forgotten and overlooked bit of of trivia, he pulled double duty in the winter at Prep and piloted two Prep League champions as he also coached the boys’ team to a share of the league title. However, those Rebels missed out on the playoffs when they lost a play-in match.
It just allowed the spotlight to shine fully upon the ultra-talented Rebels girls’ team, featuring All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year Julia Gonzalez, Helen Schaeffer, Mika Celeste, Lindsey Uteda and on and on as the team seemingly had a standout at every spot.
Under the tutelage of Chavez, the Rebels weaved through an arduous nonleague schedule with many of his top talents sidelined before completely dominating the Prep League to the tune of outscoring its opponents 74-6 in a perfect 10-0 showing.
On to the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs, Chavez’ Rebels dominated again with an 11-0 win to open against Buena and then back-to-back 3-0 triumphs against Culver City and West Torrance. It was in the semifinals in which Prep was first tested and passed with a 3-2 victory over Mayfair.
Following a semifinal run the season prior, the Rebels played their way into the championship and rallied from a one-goal deficit to best Garden Grove Pacifica, 3-1.
"This is absolutely the ultimate prize,” Chavez said after the game.
With the win came the program’s first Southern Section championship. A week later on under the pouring rain, the Rebels came up short of a storybook ending when they lost, 3-2, in overtime to Our Lady of Peace in the Southern California Regional Division III final. A final record of 26-5-4 stood for a Rebels team that scored 164 goals, the fourth-highest mark in Southern Section chronicle, and put together a 22-match winning streak at one point, which was the sixth-best in section history.
And it was most certainly the greatest season in program history and one of the finest in area lore.
2 Tom Gossard, Glendale girls' tennis — Gossard put together an impressive run as the Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis coach from 1995-2009, winning nine Pacific League championships and finishing no worse than second. Gossard went on a hiatus before returning to the coaching ranks in the fall with Glendale.
It proved to be a historic first season at Glendale for Gossard, whose team finished fourth in the Pacific League before embarking on a playoff journey that saw the Nitros reach the summit. Glendale won the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship and it was the first CIF title for Gossard and a Glendale girls’ team in any sport in school history.
The Nitros didn’t qualify for the playoffs the previous two seasons and turned to Gossard, who instilled confidence in his players in competing and spending countless hours practicing
It translated into immediate success. Glendale finished 17-6, with its losses coming against league powers Arcadia, Crescenta Valley and Burbank, who all advanced to at least the quarterfinals in higher playoff divisions.
The Nitros entered the postseason riding a wave of confidence after earning the No. 2 seed. However, with its fourth-place league showing, Glendale participated in a wild-card match against Mark Keppel and moved on. Glendale then dispatched Foothill Technology, Rosemead and Hemet before facing Rancho Miarge in the championship match at Claremont Club.
Having navigated its way to its first title match, Glendale went on to register a 10-8 victory against Rancho Mirage.
"It's overwhelming," said Gossard, who was selected the All-Area Girls’ Tennis Coach of the Year, on Nov. 8. "This win tells you what's possible when you put the will and the skill together. When the whole team is pulling on the rope in the same direction, this can happen.
"It took six months to put this together, but the girls did it."
3 Gared Luquet, GAA girls' volleyball — There was no greater athletic season in Glendale Adventist Academy sports history than what was turned in by the Cougars girls’ volleyball team under the leadership of coach Gared Luquet.
Glendale Adventist completed a postseason for the ages in finishing with a 7-1 playoff record and a 24-6 overall mark that delivered the school its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship in any sport.
The Liberty League runner-up Cougars received the No. 1 seed for the Division IX playoffs that began on Halloween.
The Cougars swept through the first three rounds before utilizing their first postseason rally in an opportune time.
Glendale Adventist fell behind, 2-1, at Canoga Park Faith Baptist before charging back for victories of 25-16 and 15-13 in the final two sets for a 3-2 triumph and advancement to the program’s first CIF championship match.
There was far less drama for the Cougars in the final as they topped Santa Clarita Christian, 3-1, on Nov. 10 at Cerritos College to claim the program’s and school’s only CIF title.
The season was far from over, as Glendale Adventist earned the No. 1 seed in Southern California in the CIF State Division V playoffs.
After a bye, Glendale Adventist picked up back-to-back wins before finally falling at the Southern California Regional Championships, 3-1, to San Diego Maranatha Christian at Providence High.
"I'm so proud of these girls and how they performed,” Luquet said after the loss. “Everyone played to their potential and some went above.”
4 Jim Bonds, St. Francis football — Having served as coach at St. Francis since 2000, Bonds has consistently guided the Golden Knights to CIF playoff appearances. Throughout most of his tenure, St. Francis has contended for league championships.
There had been several near misses for Bonds piloting the Golden Knights to a CIF championship game, falling short in the semifinals five times. That changed this season, when Bonds and St. Francis (12-2, 4-1 in the Angelus League) cleared the semifinal hurdle.
St. Francis’ offense was a model of dominant balance as it averaged 44 points per game and rolled up 3,236 yards passing and 31 passing scores. The Golden Knights finished with 2,492 yards rushing and 49 rushing touchdowns..
The Golden Knights bulldozed their way through the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs by beating rival La Serna, No. 2 Citrus Hill and El Toro to reach the championship contest for the first time since 1964.
St. Francis found itself matched with No. 4 Rancho Verde in the title game at Friedman Field. After trailing the entire game, St. Francis took a 42-41 lead with a little more than a minute left in the fourth quarter. Rancho Verde marched down the field on the ensuing possession and won on a field goal with no time remaining to earn a 44-42 win.
5 Ingrid Herskind, Flintridge Prep boys' cross-country, girls' and boys' swimming — Six Prep League individual champions, three league team championships, three CIF Southern Section top-10 efforts, one Prep League co-MVP, one state appearance, one CIF Southern Section individual titlist and one CIF State individual championship highlighted just another ho-hum sports year for Herskind.
The veteran coach was predictability brilliant with her normally dominant squads and refreshingly outstanding with her traditionally struggling team.
To start the 2017-18 year, Herskind’s boys’ cross-country team won its eighth consecutive Prep League title at Pierce College on Oct. 28.
That effort was followed by the Rebels finishing third at the Division IV championships in Riverside on Nov. 18 on an afternoon where senior Evan Pattinelli won his second straight division crown.
At the CIF State finals at Fresno’s Woodward Park on Nov. 25, the Rebels finished fourth in Division V, while Pattinelli captured a state individual title.
The race proved to be the final one for Herskind, who stepped down after a marvelous 21-year career at the helm of the boys’ program on Jan. 25.
“I have always talked to the guys about taking risks and challenging themselves — and I feel that I am ready to take on new challenges both professionally and personally,” Herskind said after stepping down.
With only a short break, the coach returned for the swimming season in style.
The Rebels made history April 28 at the Prep League finals at Pasadena Poly.
While the boys’ program romped to a sixth straight league crown, the girls pulled off an upset victory without winning a single event for the program’s first crown in 15 years.
The Flintridge Prep boys won six individual league championships as both teams headed to the Division III finals.
At the finals at Riverside City College on May 10, the Flintridge Prep girls finished seventh, which was the program’s best performance in at least a decade. The boys also shined in placing 10th, which marked a top-10 effort for three straight years.