Dan Loney has been hired as the head varsity football coach at Templeton High, Eagles athletic director Phil James announced Monday.
Loney, a health and physical education teacher at the school, was an assistant with the Eagles the past two years, serving as an offensive coordinator this past season and as a line specialist before that.
He’s also currently the head track and field coach at Templeton. He’ll stay in that role for the rest of the season, he said, with future years to be determined.
After a standout prep career at Atascadero, where Loney was named The Tribune’s co-San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year as a senior in 1995, he went on to start at Cal Poly before beginning a seven-year career with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League.
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The SaberCats won three Arena Bowl titles during Loney’s tenure, and he was twice voted the team’s lineman of the year.
Pursuing a coaching career after his playing days had long been a goal for Loney, but becoming a varsity head coach so close to home is even more special for the former Greyhound and Mustang.
“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “Definitely, to be able to coach in this area, to coach at this school, you can’t ask for more. The administration, the A.D., all the (assistant) coaches helping out, and especially the kids, have all been great. This is somewhere where lots of people want to be. I feel really lucky and fortunate.”
Loney takes over for Dave Harper, who stepped down last month to spend more time with his family. Harper, who then expressed an interest in perhaps returning in a less time-consuming, assisting role, will now be the Eagles’ linebackers coach, Loney said. Harper played a year at linebacker for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in 1990.
Loney inherits a talented group of upcoming players, as the Eagles’ JV program went 9-1 this past season. Also among those expected to be back from the varsity squad is defensive lineman Ross Berry, who was a Cal-Hi Sports all-state second-team sophomore a year ago.
In 2010, the Eagles enjoyed their most successful campaign since moving to the CIF-Southern Section prior to the start of the 2006 season, finishing 8-5 after a run to the semifinals of the Northwest Division playoffs.
Philosophically, Loney said he plans to fit his offensive and defensive systems around the personnel he has in a given year, adding, however, that naturally, “Being an O-lineman, I’m a downhill type of a guy. I like to be hard-nosed and like to win in the dirt.”
Bill Tripp, who was Loney’s offensive line coach at both Cal Poly and with the SaberCats, said his former pupil’s work ethic and knowledge of the game will translate well to his new job.
“He was a hard worker, very coachable and a student of the game,” Tripp said. “You wish they were all like him.
“He understands a lot of aspects other than just his position (line play),” added Tripp, who now coaches offensive tackles at Army. “He can put all the pieces of the puzzle together, and he’s got a great personality that players respond to. All the kids there will benefit from playing for him.”
Templeton is scheduled to start spring ball May 16.
“It comes down to making sure the kids have a positive experience but are working hard toward their goals,” Loney said. “That’s my main thing: that kids know their goals and work for them.”