CIF-SS and state officials get a lot of questions about new guidelines for high school sports

The CIF Southern Section will be releasing new information to its schools on Wednesday morning, Dec. 16 that is supposed to address some of the questions that came up one day after the state rolled out its new health guidelines for youth and high school sports.

In somewhat of a surprising move, the California Department of Public Health issued its new  guidelines on Monday evening, which were seen as a mix of good news, bad news and unanswered questions by those most deeply involved in high school sports — the coaches, athletes and parents of athletes.

The most prominent question: Does this mean there will be high school sports this school year?

Gov. Gavin Newsom took a shot at answering that question Tuesday during a news conference.

“The virus will make that determination,” Newsom said, “(through) our actions, each and every individual action, the sum total of which will determine how quickly that will occur.”

In other words, the state and each county need to see a drop in their number of coronavirus cases, showing they are getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control, for the green light to go on for high school sports.

If the COVID-19 numbers stay where they’re at, maybe a handful of sports — those that don’t involve contact, such as cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field — will be the only ones cleared to have a season this school year.

The new guidelines use the state’s color-coded system for a county’s COVID-19 transmission risk to determine when a sport can begin in that county. For example, Orange County would need to be in the orange tier (moderate risk of COVID-19 spread) for football and volleyball to begin their seasons.

For now, all sports in the state are on hold until Jan. 25, although conditioning workouts are still allowed. The CDPH also said it will take a look at the state’s progress toward controlling the virus on Jan. 4, and the start date could be changed, perhaps to an earlier date.

The guidelines are comprehensive (they apply to all youth sports, including club teams), and include details about practice routines and fan attendance, which vary from sport to sport.

But all of that detail led to more questions, so CIF commissioner Ron Nocetti and the commissioners of the state’s 10 sections went through the guidelines thoroughly in a teleconference Tuesday, Nocetti said, so that they could provide guidance to their member schools.

“Now I think the sections are looking at that information and putting together information to share with their member schools,” Nocetti said. “They’ll start to have conversations with their leadership about what this means for their sections moving forward.”

The CIF-SS said it will release new information to its member schools at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, but did not offer any details.

Most likely, it won’t be anything that greatly changes what is already in place.

“There were questions about things we could look at in the future,” Nocetti said of Tuesday’s discussion. “But everyone is going to proceed pretty cautiously because it says clearly in the guidance that they’re going to reassess the start date on Jan. 4.

“People are a little hesitant to do things until we see if that Jan. 25 date is going to hold.”

There was a great deal of discussion on Twitter on Tuesday about changing the sports calendar as a way to improve the chances for some sports to have a season.

Sports such as football, volleyball and water polo are in the second-most difficult tier to reach — orange — and those are all sports that are supposed to be having their seasons right now.

If the sports calendar was changed and the start dates for those sports were pushed back 2-3 months, it would give them more time to possibly reach the tier they need to be in. Right now, all of the area counties — Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino — are in the purple tier (widespread risk).

Nocetti and CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod have both insisted that it’s unlikely the football calendar will be changed again this year. They have cited the recommendations of health officials that football should not go beyond mid-April this school year if there are plans to begin next school year’s season in August.

The change that is more likely to happen throughout the state: The season for many sports will be shortened, with a later start date, which allows for more time to get the virus under control, and the emphasis would be on league games and perhaps a brief postseason that does not include regional or state championships.

The sports that appear to be most in danger of not having a season are in the yellow tier (minimal risk), as it is the most difficult tier to reach. Those sports are cheerleading (indoors), basketball, hockey and wrestling. (Basketball and hockey move to the orange tier if they are played outdoors, but that is usually not done at the high school level.)

Newsom insisted that he wants to see high school sports return this school year, and that state officials are committed to finding a safe way to bring them back as soon as possible.

“I’m reverential in terms of my desire (for sports to return),” he said, “for kids’ mental and physical health, for parents’ mental and physical health, to get kids playing sports again in a safe manner. So we’ve been stubborn, we’ve been working on this, lot of work behind the scenes on this.”

– BANG reporters Darren Sabedra, Michael Nowels and Nico Savidge contributed to this report. 

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Ex-Rosary basketball star Asia Avinger, now at San Diego State, suffers knee injury

The start to Asia Avinger’s promising collegiate basketball career will be delayed.

The San Diego State freshman from Rosary High announced on Tuesday, Nov. 24 that she recently suffered a torn ACL that will require surgery.

The Aztecs are scheduled to open their season Wednesday against Washington at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“A few days ago, I had a freak accident and ended up tearing my ACL completely,” Avinger wrote on her Instagram. “I know this is in God’s plan and he gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. … This is just one obstacle that I have to overcome but best believe I’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Avinger, a 5-foot-7 guard, arrived at San Diego State coming off an outstanding senior season in which she earned Register player of the year and female athlete of the year honors.

The highest-ranked recruit under eighth-year coach Stacie Terry-Hutson, Avinger was selected the preseason freshman of the year in the Mountain West Conference.

Last season, Avinger led Rosary to its second consecutive CIF State Division 1 final before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the championship game.

She averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists to earn Trinity League MVP.

San Diego State was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference behind favorite Fresno State, San Jose State and Boise State.

Avinger’s twin brother, Noah, a senior at Servite, has committed to San Diego State for football.

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Ladislav Kohn hired as hockey coach at Santa Margarita

Santa Margarita High has hired Ladislav Kohn as the head coach of its boys hockey program.

Kohn, a former NHL player who spent two seasons with the Ducks, was an assistant coach for the Eagles the past two years, including when they won their third national championship in 2019. He replaces Craig Johnson, who resigned in September.

“I am humbled and honored to be named as the new head coach for the SM Eagles,” Kohn said. “I’m looking forward to coaching this talented group of players and being a mentor to them on and off the ice.”

Kohn played for eight NHL teams during his 20 seasons as a professional player. He has been involved in California youth hockey for the past seven years.

“I am thrilled to hear that Laddy will be the next head coach of the ice hockey program,” said Johnson, who is now a consultant for Santa Margarita’s hockey program. “Laddy is a great person and coach who will continue to grow the program and be a great leader for all current and future players.”


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Bill Cunerty, former Saddleback College coach and high school football broadcaster, dies from Parkinson’s disease

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Former Saddleback College football and golf coach Bill Cunerty, who also became a beloved broadcaster of high school football games and a guru for future NFL quarterbacks, died Thursday, Oct. 22, from complications of Parkinson’s disease, his wife, Claudia, said.

Cunerty, 74, was diagnosed with the degenerative disorder of the central nervous system in April of 2017 and had been in hospice care for more than a year, said Claudia, his wife of 51 years and caretaker during his health battle.

“He was a strong Christian,” she said. “He knew he was going to heaven.”

Cunerty’s unique connection with Orange County sports spanned more than 40 years and showcased his array of talents and passions.

The Mission Viejo resident was a state championship-winning coach in three different sports at Saddleback College. He was the football coach at Capistrano Valley and Dana Hills high schools and served as commentator for high school sports with COX 3, a cable television affiliate that covered schools from Tustin to San Clemente.

Cunerty also was a highly-regarded private quarterback coach, former president of the Southern California Golf Association and a successful high school English teacher.

“Everything he touched turned to gold,” said longtime friend Bob Janko, who met Cunerty around 1969 at North Torrance High. “He’s just an intelligent man and very personable. He kids loved playing for him.”

Cunerty arrived at North Torrance, his alma mater, to teach and coach football, Janko said. A former football and baseball player at USC, Cunerty soon began to climb the coaching rankings.

He coached North Torrance’s football program from 1969 to 1973.

Cunerty became Dana Hills’ football coach in 1975 and Capistrano Valley’s first coach two years later.

Cunerty’s staff at Capistrano Valley, Janko said, included a trio of future coaching stars for the Cougars: Dick Enright and Eric Patton in football, and Bob Zamora, who became a legendary baseball coach.

Cunerty had his most coaching success at Saddleback College. He was a longtime quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the Gauchos and took the head coaching reins for three seasons after the retirement of the legendary Ken Swearingen.

Cunerty led the Gauchos to an undefeated season and national title in 1996. He resigned in 1998 because of heath reasons.

Cunerty survived two battles with colon cancer and two heart attacks, Claudia said.

He also coached Saddleback College’s men’s and women’s golf teams to state titles, becoming the first community college coach in California to win state titles in three different sports. He led the men’s golf team to six state crowns.

“He loved coaching and teaching,” Claudia said of her husband, a member of the state community college hall of fame.

Cunerty, a journalism major at USC, also was a fixture at the biggest high school games as a broadcaster with COX 3. Teaming with Kevin Turner and former Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, Cunerty was quick to praise players while mixing in his coaching insights, stories and humor.

His last broadcast was the O.C. all-star football game in the summer of 2017.

“He was a true community gem,” said Turner, who worked with Cunerty for 14 years. “We’re all blessed to have known him. He’s the most incredible ambassador of high school sports in Southern California.”

Sad news: Ex-Saddleback College football coach, QB guru, star broadcaster, fighter, and family man Bill Cunerty, left, has died
There was no better ambassador for O.C. High School Sports than Cunerty (partner Kevin Turner, right) #RIPCoachCunerty @ocvarsity @SteveFryer

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) October 24, 2020

The Orange County football community also knew Cunerty as a private quarterback guru.

He coached with West Coast Passing School for years and tutored many of the area’s best passers. From Todd Marinovich to Matt Barkley to his final protege, Nathan Manning, Cunerty — a former quarterback himself — helped many athletes.

“Such a great teacher,” said Tom Shine, one of Cunerty’s closest friends and a former football and golf coach at Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon colleges. “He just had that gift.”

Cunerty’s affable personalty, communication skills and knowledge also led him to become a trainer for quarterback prospects preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine. He worked with Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo — who faced off in the Super Bowl last season — and Andrew Luck, among others.

Cunerty’s presence also was highly-sought off the football field.

About 18 years ago, he officiated the wedding of Shine’s daughter, Jamie, to her husband Rick. Cunerty completed training to fulfill the role, Shine said.

“And he was awesome,” Shine said, “just like he did everything else.”

Cunerty is survived by his wife, daughter Kelly, son-in-law Cameron, daughter Shannon, son-in-law Ben, three grandchildren and sister Patty. Funeral arrangements have not been announced, but Claudia said the family plans to stream the memorial live.

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Magnolia High selects Thavis Miller as new football coach

Thavis Miller credits the lessons he learned playing football for helping him succeed as a father, husband and coach.

Now, he’s ready to pass on those teachings to Magnolia High.

The father of six and former collegiate assistant has been has hired as the Sentinels’ football coach, he said on Thursday, Sept. 24. It’s Miller’s first head coaching position.

“It’s about giving back,” he said.

Miller, a walk-on who also works as a job coach in Los Alamitos High’s adult transition program, replaces three-year coach Desmond Hernandez, now an assistant and full-time physical education teacher at Portola.

Hernandez was not a full-time teacher at Magnolia — he served as substitute teacher.

Miller was a defensive line coach the University La Verne from 2017-18. Before that, he served as an assistant at Cerritos College.

He has been an assistant high school coach in Iowa and North Dakota, rising to defensive coordinator at Boone (Iowa) and North (North Dakota), respectively.

Miller was an all-state high school football player at Wilcox in Georgia and became an all-conference defensive lineman at Iowa Wesleyan.

He also played two years for Milwaukee in the Arena Football League.

Miller is married to former Pacifica star softball player Brittany Weil, now an assistant at Loyola Marymount.

The couple has six children, including standout high school athletes Zatyvion (Los Alamitos/Cerritos College football), Lataviah (Buena Park basketball) and Tajavis (Servite basketball).

Tajavis, a junior point guard, holds offers from Washington State, LMU, San Diego and Pepperdine.

Zatyvion was the Sunset League’s defensive lineman of the year last season. Lataviah, a senior, averaged about 17 points and 11 rebounds last season.

In 2019, Magnolia won seven games on the field (one victory was forfeited for an ineligible player) after winning a combined three games its first two seasons under Hernandez.

Miller said he will focus on the character development of his players. He also aims to build off the success Hernandez experienced last season and take “the next step.”

“The challenge is something I felt I’m up for,” he said.

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Dana Hills hires ex-Mater Dei, Corona del Mar player Trevor Gladych as boys water polo coach

Dana Hills High’s new boys water polo coach will be drawing from an array of experience in and outside of the pool.

The South Coast League contender has hired former Mater Dei and Corona del Mar player Trevor Gladych as its coach, replacing veteran Matt Rosa.

Gladych, 31, played collegiate club water polo and earned a law degree from Georgetown and a screenwriting degree from Loyola Marymount.

He played club water polo at Villanova for coach Dan Sharadin, his top coaching mentor and a key figure in the rise of the College Water Polo Association in the eastern U.S.

Gladych red-shirted for Loyola Marymount’s men’s water polo team.

He has coached and taught the past five years at Saint Francis in Mountain View.

Gladych inherits a team that has been chasing San Clemente the past few seasons in the South Coast League but remained among the top programs in Orange County.

Rosa resigned after 17 seasons in November to spend more time with his family. The Dolphins qualified for the playoffs the past 13 seasons under Rosa, highlighted by a CIF-SS Division 2 runner-up finish to Foothill in 2015.

Gladych praised Rosa for his coaching and the character he instilled in players. He views water polo as the vehicle to achieve character goals.

“The boys at Dana Hills are phenomenal,” Gladych said. “I could not be more excited.”

Gladych will serve as a walk-on coach and be assisted by Kenny Yamamoto.

Gladych also works as a paralegal and a counselor with “Admissions Buddy”, a service for college-bound students. He said he aspires to start a club water polo program.

His brother, Ryan, was a standout center at Mater Dei and played at Brown.

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Tesoro girls swimming coach Todd Conrad departing for Pennsylvania after stellar eight-year run

Tesoro High girls swimming coach Todd Conrad called it a “bittersweet” decision.

The former Orange County high school coach of the year and veteran club coach said Monday, Sept. 14 that he will be resigning and moving with his family to Pennsylvania.

“It was a hard decision,” he said, “but it’s the right move for the family.”

Married with two young sons, Conrad will relocate to Downingtown, a suburb of Philadelphia, and become the head age-group coach with Upper Main Line YMCA. The club has a silver medal-standing with USA Swimming and about 300 year-round swimmers.

“We’re excited to have a new adventure,” Conrad said.

He will take considerable experience on the trek. He guided Tesoro for eight seasons, leading the Titans to the past six consecutive South Coast League titles.

The Titans also have finished second to Santa Margarita at the past three CIF-SS Division 1 championships.

Conrad, the Register’s coach of the year in 2018, also was known for building tight-knit teams and his enthusiasm on the pool deck.

He has been serving as director of operations at FAST the past eight months. His signature post in O.C. club swimming was leading the Coto Coyotes for 14 years. He also was recently the general manager of the Mission Viejo Nadadores.

Conrad swam at UC Irvine and also coached with the Irvine Aquazot and Santa Margarita.

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Beau Green, Turlock quarterback with Auburn offer, enrolls at Mater Dei

The quarterback competition at Mater Dei High has an intriguing new entry.

Beau Green, who missed last season at Turlock in the Central Valley due to an injury but holds an offer from Auburn, has enrolled at Mater Dei, the junior said Friday, Sept. 11.

Green (6-2, 210) didn’t play his sophomore campaign because of labrum surgery on his right, throwing shoulder but recovered to train well over the summer.

“The highlight (of the summer) was getting an extended period of time to really work on my mechanics and clean up my stroke,” Green said. “Another thing that has been nice is finally getting in contact with a lot of college coaches since Sept. 1.”

Green also has been offered by William & Mary, a FCS school.

He played his freshman season at Thomas Downey in Modesto.

Green said he starts distance learning with Mater Dei on Monday. The Trinity League school plans to return to in-person instruction in its hybrid plan on Sept. 22, the first day Orange County high schools can reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The confirmation of Green’s transfer arrives as news of Miller Moss’ departure surfaced this week. The USC-committed quarterback transferred to Mater Dei in June but has returned to Alemany with a plan to graduate early.

Mater Dei is seeking to replace two-year starting quarterback Bryce Young, now a freshman and the No. 2 quarterback at Alabama. Other top contenders for the spot are junior Emmett Brown and sophomore Parker Awad.

Brown transferred to Mater Dei from San Marcos in the offseason while Awad was the freshman quarterback at Mater Dei last season.

Mater Dei quarterback Tobey Schmidt transferred to Maranatha earlier in the offseason.

Please send football news to Dan Albano at or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter

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Magnolia football coach Desmond Hernandez resigns after three seasons

Magnolia High football coach Desmond Hernandez, who turned around the Sentinels the past three seasons, has resigned, he confirmed Thursday night.

In an Instagram post, Hernandez said he accepted a physical education teaching position at another high school, which he didn’t mention by name.

When contacted, Hernandez said he couldn’t yet discuss his destination.

Last season, Hernandez led Magnolia to seven victories on the field (one victory was forfeited for an ineligible player) after the school won three games combined his first two seasons.

Magnolia (6-4) placed third in the Orange League and notched its first winning season since 2008.

But Hernandez also helped the team overcoming a fire last summer that destroyed an on-campus equipment shed with football gear.

Magnolia returns a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in seniors Lloyd Marshbanks and Joseph Lariz. But the Orange League looks tougher with arrival of Western, a CIF-SS champion in 2018. Katella has dominated the league the last several seasons.

Hernandez is the third Orange League coach to resign since last season, joining the retired Fred DiPalma (Katella) and Larry Mohr (Santa Ana Valley).

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Legendary Mater Dei football coach Dick Coury dies at age 91

Legendary former Mater Dei football coach Dick Coury, who helped build the Monarchs into a powerhouse before embarking on a long and successful career at the collegiate and professional levels, died Saturday, Aug. 15, announced Lake Oswego High in Oregon, where Coury’s son Steve is the football coach.

The announcement, from the official twitter account of the Lake Oswego football program, said Coury was 91.

“He treated everyone he came in contact with like they were the most important person in the world,” Lake Oswego tweeted. “Even with all of his accomplishments in coaching, he will be remembered more for the type of person he was.”

Rest In Peace coach Dick Coury. #Family #LakerNation

— LO Lakers Football (@LOLakersFB) August 16, 2020

Coury coached Mater Dei for nine seasons in the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, leading the Monarchs to three CIF-SS titles and seven league titles. His combined record was 85-9-5 from 1957 to 1965.

Coury went on to serve as defensive coordinator for USC and became Cal State Fullerton’s first football coach in 1970.

He was part of the Trojans’ coaching staff for their 1967 national championship. In his two seasons at Cal State Fullerton, he compiled a 13-8-1 record.

Coury was an assistant coach for several NFL teams, including the L.A. and St. Louis Rams.

He served as an assistant with the Eagles in 1981 when they lost to the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

Coury also coached in the World Football League and United States Football League. He was the USFL’s coach of the year in 1983.

The family has informed us that Dick Coury has passed away at the age of 90. Coury coached all three seasons with the #USFL Breakers in Boston, New Orleans and Portland. He also coached with the @steelers, @Broncos, @Chargers, @Eagles, @RamsNFL, @Patriots, @Vikings and Oilers.

— The USFL Project (@theusflproject) August 16, 2020

While he helped with the Lake Oswego team, Coury also could be spotted at Mater Dei in retirement. He attended the Monarchs’ pre-game ceremony for the 1950 and 1960 team in 2015.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, who hoisted Coury’s arm before the 2015 game, played for Coury at Mater Dei.

“I’ve known Coach Coury since around the seventh grade and have always admired him as both a great coach and a great person,” said Phil Anton, a longtime observer of Orange County football and former chairman of the county all-star game.

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