Banning Coach Chooses Family Over Football : Preps: Dominguez says his resignation has nothing to do with team's forfeit against Dorsey.

TIMES PREP SPORTS EDITOR

Joe Dominguez, the Wilmington Banning High School football coach who did not allow his team to play a game at Dorsey last season for fear of gang violence, has resigned.

Dominguez said the circumstances surrounding last season had nothing to do with his decision. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"My young boy just turned 5," Dominguez said. "It'll be nice to spend some daylight hours with him.

"I think it's a good time for me to step away for a while. The losses hurt more than the wins feel good. I had a choice to make: Cut back on my hours or step down."

Banning has had a high-profile football program for 20 years, known best for its neighborhood rivalry with Carson. But the team made national news last October after forfeiting a game against Pacific League rival Dorsey.

Dominguez did not want his team to play at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Dorsey's home field, because it had been the site of two apparently gang-related shootings that month. He said he feared for the safety of his players.

Despite pleas from Mayor Tom Bradley, Police Chief Darryl Gates and a number of Los Angeles Unified School District administrators that Banning play the game, Dominguez refused to change his mind. He had support from his players and their parents.

The teams eventually met in the City Division 4-A championship game on Dec. 14 at El Camino College in Torrance. Dorsey won, 33-30, without incident.

John Newton, Banning's athletic director, said Dominguez's resignation came as a surprise.

"No one here expected him to step down," Newton said. "He's been a fixture on the football team for a number of years, so he has certainly put in his time. Coaching Banning football is a big job, and there is a lot of pressure."

Dominguez played football at Banning and graduated from the school in 1970. He joined the Pilots' staff in 1975 as an assistant to Chris Ferragamo. He was the offensive coordinator on eight City championship teams at Banning. He has been the head coach for four years. Dominguez will continue to teach physical education at Banning.

Times staff writer Dave Sheinin contributed to this story.

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