Steve Carnes, who resigned in 1990 after coaching Leuzinger High's football team for seven seasons, has been named as the Olympians' coach.
"Coaching is like an addiction, and I just fell off the wagon," he said. "It's tough to get it out of your system."
Carnes replaces Tom Jessee, who was pressured to resign by the Leuzinger administration after one season as coach. Under Jessee, the Olympians were 4-6 (1-3 in the Bay League) and experienced internal problems involving coaches and players.
Under Carnes, Leuzinger was 56-22-6 and reached the Southern Section playoffs every season from 1984-90, winning the school's only section football title in 1985. Carnes coached four league championship teams, the last one in 1990 when the Olympians tied Hawthorne for the Bay League title.
Carnes, 41, said he had no intention of returning as coach when he stepped down after the 1990 season. But a year away from football convinced him that he missed it more than he had anticipated.
"When I left two seasons ago, my plan was to stay out," he said. "But I never lost that feeling for coaching."
Carnes said what he missed the most were the relationships he developed when he was coaching. He mentioned former Leuzinger and El Camino College lineman Jim Justice, who died of cancer last year.
"Jim Justice dying affected me," he said. "The relationship I had with him was very close. I began thinking that I would have never had that type of relationship if it wasn't for coaching.
"All the relationships I've had over the years were due to coaching. I missed all that. . . . It's the associations you have with the kids and with the coaches around the area that make you want to stay part of it."
Carnes said he will remain Leuzinger's athletic director and return to the classroom as a science teacher. He has been working as an assistant principal on an interim basis.
Others who applied for the Leuzinger job included Larry Reed, the former Hawthorne coach, and Steve Carroll, the former Bishop Montgomery coach. Reed withdrew from consideration after Carnes applied.
Carnes' staff will include several former coaching associates and players. They are defensive coordinator Fred Boehm, the former coach at Hawthorne and Lawndale and a former Leuzinger assistant, and line coaches Frank Miller, who coached with Carnes in 1989, and John Guilfoyle, who played for Carnes. Kelvin Rutledge, a former Leuzinger player who coached under Jessee last season, will handle the wide receivers and defensive backs.
"I think I have a real good staff," said Carnes, adding that the coaches held their first meeting Thursday in preparation for spring football.
"We had approximately 130 kids there, not counting incoming freshmen," he said. "There are quite a few kids interested in playing."
Carnes and the Leuzinger football program have been involved in controversy for the past several weeks because of charges brought by a former Leuzinger sophomore coach. Chris White alleges that Carnes had knowledge of academically ineligible students playing varsity football for Leuzinger last season and that Jessee ordered White to illegally recruit athletes in Inglewood.
Carnes produced school records last week that he said clear him of White's charges. Jessee denies he ordered White to recruit players.