Bob Ladouceur, who was the legendary football coach at Concord De La Salle, hasn’t been head coach since 2012. He stayed on as an assistant until this season. But he’s still a teacher at the school and offering advice to his successor, Justin Alumbaugh, and has been studying St. John Bosco and Santa Ana Mater Dei for weeks.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time on them,” Ladouceur told the San Jose Mercury News. “You’ve got to be good to beat Mater Dei — there is no doubt about it — and those guys are very good. We’re going to have our hands full.”
De La Salle is coming to town by bus to face St. John Bosco on Saturday night at Cerritos College in the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game. Both schools are 12-1 but De La Salle is considered a heavy underdog.
Alumbaugh and St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro have an interesting tie. Both had the same Northern California-based priest preside over their marriages.
Alumbaugh said everyone kept asking him if he’d rather face Mater Dei or St. John Bosco until St. john Bosco defeated the Monarchs 39-34 in the Southern Section Division 1 championship game.
“Give me a break,’ he said. “That game was incredible. If Mater Dei had won, the good news was we were playing St. John Bosco. Yeah, that’s like preparing for Alabama or Clemson. Obviously there’s different schemes but as far as the caliber team there’s no difference.”
De La Salle has participated in every CIF state bowl game since its inception in 2006. The Spartans have lost three in row and have not been particularly competitive in losses to St. John Bosco in 2016 and Mater Dei the last two years. That’s probably why Ladouceur has been studying the Southern California schools. He had a 34-year run with a 399-25-3 record.
One change De La Salle has made is relying more on the spread offense than just the veer. It’s now about 50-50, and that gives the Spartans more passing options.
“If we’re going to win, we have to play well,” Alumbaugh said. “We fumbled four times last year and seven times the year before that. You can’t do that.”