Over the Hill

How long will Paso fans stand for a football team that keeps losing coaches and games?

J.R. Reynolds, left, is the fourth head football coach at Paso Robles High School in less than two years.
J.R. Reynolds, left, is the fourth head football coach at Paso Robles High School in less than two years. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The Paso Robles Bearcats football team is now embroiled in turmoil. I read about it in Thursday’s Tribune. The Bearcats are now being run by their fourth head football coach in two years. That could stimulate more talk about de-emphasizing football at Paso Robles High School, but don’t count on it.

Last year, the head coach was removed after 19 years on the job, for reportedly pouring syrup into a player’s bellybutton in a locker-room victory party and then licking or pretending to lick it. His replacement wasn’t rehired for this season. Instead, a former professional football player was hired, but he resigned after just one game for an undisclosed reason. His replacement coach is still on the job, at last report.

The Bearcats lost again Friday night, to Cajon (San Bernardino), 48-21. That makes Paso Robles High School 0-3 for the season.

But Bearcat fans shouldn’t be discouraged. Look what the San Luis Obispo High School football players did Friday night. They ended their 16-game losing streak with a 24-10 win over Morro Bay. They hadn’t won a game since 2015.

But I can’t help wondering if Bearcat fans would patiently wait that long without holding a recall election for the school board. Paso voters might then elect any school board candidates who promised drastic action, such as firing the district superintendent, the high school principal, and the athletic directors.

I’m not a Bearcat. I’m just a Bearcat fan, and it’s been several years since I attended a game. I’m sort of a Bearcat fellow traveler. But my kids are full-fledged Bearcats. They went to Paso Robles elementary and middle schools and graduated from Paso Robles High School when it was still at Spring and 24th streets.

Whenever the Bearcats played football at home on Friday evenings, we went. We ate supper at Smith’s Drive In at Spring and 24th streets and then we went to the nearby football field. That field is still the district’s main football field, but with 21st century improvements.

In those days Paso Robles seemed more isolated. The state highways were narrower. The North County may have had more acres of almond trees then than grapevines. Our handful of vineyards probably sold more wine to sheepherders than to tourists. The vineyards also had no entertainment. The only possibly well-known acts to be seen in the North County were maybe one or two at the fair.

Now, let’s take a deep breath and remember: A hurricane is a big deal; high-school football isn’t. Schools’ most important job is to help young people become well-informed, realistic adults. Games and sports are, however, a good way to teach teamwork. Championships, though, are just added spice.

And these days when discussing body-contact sports like football, we should consider another factor. We seem to be hearing increasing reports about brain injuries and their possible long-term effects. Parents may want to investigate those reports and steer their children toward other sports.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every other week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

Former Paso Robles High football coach and current match teacher Rich Schimke criticized the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District and it's handling of multiple issues during public comments of a school board meeting on Tuesday.

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