L.A. Times’ high school football coach of the year: Jeff Kearin

Taft football coach Jeff Kearin talks to the team.
Taft football coach Jeff Kearin is The Times’ prep football coach of the year for 2021.
(Neezer McNab)

This story is part of our L.A. Times 2021 fall All-Star football team coverage. Read the full series here.

Jeff Kearin was hired at Woodland Hills Taft High out of desperation just a few weeks before the 2021 football season. The Toreadors lost their coach, and school administrators needed a replacement. The team had lost 25 consecutive games. There was no indication a turnaround was coming anytime soon. And yet, Kearin accepted the challenge.

A former head coach at Cal State Northridge, as well as Los Angeles Loyola and St. Monica high schools, Kearin was teaching at Encino Crespi High and planning to coach his daughter’s field hockey team when Taft called on him. He put together a staff, learned quickly about the way things are done at a City Section school and persuaded his players to buy in.

Taft ended its losing streak at 26 games and went on to win the City Section Division III championship. For shepherding this comeback, Kearin has been selected The Times’ high school football coach of the year.

Kearin said he has never enjoyed a group of players more, seeing them experience success after years of not winning a single game. It was his organizational, teaching and motivational skills that helped provide leadership and support to his players.

The Los Angeles Times has selected its All-Star football team comprised of 24 players, including player, back and lineman of the year, plus coach of the year.

Dec. 19, 2021