Los Angeles Preps: Rick Bray

IE: Colton head coach quits at halftime, according to reports

September, 4, 2011
What a bizarre year it has been at Colton.

On Friday night, the football program took its wildest turn yet when head coach Rick Bray resigned at halftime of his team’s opening game against visiting San Diego Torrey Pines, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Bray, who led the Yellowjackets to the SS-Central Division title last season in his first year at the helm, was apparently unhappy that his son, B.J. Bray, an assistant coach, was asked to leave the sideline during the second quarter against Torrey Pines.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, the younger Bray was being disciplined for his actions at a district board meeting in May, when his father’s contract was renewed. The position had briefly been opened to other applicants, generating strong emotion from Bray's supporters and a few who thought otherwise. According to the Sun, the younger Bray yelled at the parents of a former player who had criticized Rick Bray during the open meeting.

Another son, Rick Bray Jr., who coached the second half of the 35-7 loss to Torrey Pines, is also likely leaving the staff, the elder Bray told the Press-Enterprise. There's no word on who will run the program, but a likely candidate would be the school's athletic director, Harold Strauss, who has amassed 229 career victories at Colton and two other stops.

Colton’s run to its first section title in 32 years was one of the uplifting stories of last season. After serving as an assistant coach at Colton for 21 of the previous 25 years, Bray was handed the reigns when Strauss stepped aside after the 2009 season to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.

It didn’t come easy, as Bray had to wait six months for the district board to approve his hiring.

Despite leading the Yellowjackets to the Central Division crown, Bray’s position was re-opened in the offseason as the district sought to appease the Rialto Rule, which gives hiring preference for coaching positions to on-campus teachers. Don Markham, a legendary coach in the Southland and a teacher at Colton, reportedly accepted the position, then turned it down 24 hours later when he was guaranteed a teaching position at Compton High, where he had been hired as head coach two months earlier.

Bray, a security guard at Colton, was then retained as head coach.

Until this weekend, at least.

Inland Empire: Bray will remain football coach at Colton

May, 6, 2011
After another 24 hours of twists and turns, Rick Bray is back as head football coach at Colton High School.

Don Markham, meanwhile, is staying at Compton High.

Bray took over the Colton program last May and led the Yellowjackets to their first Southern Section championship in 32 years, but the job was re-opened following the season to satisfy the Rialto Rule, which gives hiring preference to on-campus teachers.

Before taking over as head coach, Bray had been an assistant at the school for 21 of the previous 25 years but wasn’t a certified teacher.

Markham, who has amassed 309 career victories while coaching at eight high schools, was teaching at Colton when he threw his name in the hat for the head coaching position, even though he had accepted the same job at Compton two months earlier.

According to reports, Markham began looking at the Colton position because he wasn’t guaranteed an on-campus job at Compton. That changed this week when the Tarbabes placed him on staff as a weightlifting instructor.

With his employment at Compton secured and Bray the popular choice to retain his job, Markham reportedly pulled his name out of the running for the Colton position, leaving Bray as the only remaining candidate.

Bray was confirmed as head coach by a 7-0 vote during Thursday evening’s Colton Joint Unified School District meeting.

For one of those rare occasions, it appears all sides came out a winner.

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Inland Empire: Colton's coaching position takes another turn

May, 4, 2011
Some of the juiciest high school football stories always seem to happen in the offseason.

Take, for instance, what’s going on at Colton High School.

First, a little background:

The Yellowjackets were searching for a head coach this time last year, and the most obvious candidate to take the reigns from Harold Strauss was right in front of them, Rick Bray, who had been an assistant at the school for 21 of the previous 25 years.

The only snag was, Bray was a security guard at the school and not a certified teacher. His hiring prospects put him behind the 8-ball in relation to the Rialto Rule, an education code stipulation that gives preference to certified teachers.

After six months of hand-wringing by the Colton Joint Unified School District, and with no better qualified candidates stepping forward, board members went ahead and approved Bray’s hiring in May of last year.

Bray then went out and made everyone look like geniuses, leading unseeded Colton to its first Southern Section football championship in 32 years.

But now Bray is back on the outside looking in, his job re-opened courtesy of the Rialto Rule, and this time there’s competition for the job, very well-known competition.

Don Markham, 71, is not only an on-campus teacher at Colton, but he owns 309 career victories and five section titles during stints at eight different high schools.

A gruff, iconic figure in the Inland Empire, Markham became well known for his creation of the tightly-bunched double-wing offense, which he used season after season to churn out thousands of yards and hundreds of points, despite not always have the best talent on the field.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

December, 13, 2010
1. Corona Centennial completed an undefeated regular season and playoff run Friday with a 45-21 victory against Vista Murrieta in the Inland Division championship game. The Huskies were rewarded with a berth in the Division I state bowl game Friday night against Palo Alto at Home Depot Center. Barrinton Collins rushed for 286 yards and five touchdowns, and quarterback Michael Eubank continues to be the grease that spins the machine, throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 73.

2. From sidelines to message boards, many have debated whether Centennial deserved the open bowl berth over Servite based on common opponents. Exhibit A in the evidence file is Mater Dei. Centennial led the Monarchs, 44-0, after three quarters Sept. 17 before calling off the dogs and winning, 44-13. Servite beat Mater Dei a month later, 21-14. Exhibit B would be Temecula Chaparral. A week after defeating Mater Dei, the Huskies blew out the Pumas, 45-12, in their stadium. A week later -- and with the Pumas missing their two best players -- the Friars won, 28-7, at Santa Ana Stadium.

3. Centennial won its sixth section title since the school opened in 1997. Quite a contrast to Elsinore High, which over the weekend won its first section title in the school’s 83-year history. The Tigers played a gritty, mistake-free game in the 21-7 victory against Fontana Summit in the Eastern Division final. The celebration seemed even more special because the game was played at Elsinore High.

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Inland Empire: Championship game previews

December, 9, 2010
Corona Centennial and Vista Murrieta, who have emerged as two of the Inland Empire’s strongest football powers in the last decade, will meet for just the second time Friday night in the Inland Division championship game at Centennial.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The only other time the teams played was two years ago in the semifinals. Centennial won, 41-14, behind three touchdown passes and two rushing by quarterback Taylor Martinez, now at Nebraska. That team went on to defeat Concord De La Salle in the CIF-Division I state bowl game and finish 15-0.

Offensively, the top-seeded Huskies (13-0) are very similar this season. They also feature a talented dual-purpose quarterback in Michael Eubank, a senior who has thrown for 2,532 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, with just three interceptions. On the ground, he has amassed 1,092 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 10.1 yards per carry.

The biggest difference between this season's offense and the 2008 version is running back Barrinton Collins, whose quick feet and explosiveness prevents defenses from focusing on Eubank. Collins has rushed for 2,026 yards (11.3 avg.) and scored 37 touchdowns.

Defensively, they’re a plus-23 in turnover ratio. Ryan Jack, a San Diego State-bound linebacker, is the team’s leading tackler.

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Inland Empire: The Top 10

September, 6, 2010
1. Temecula Chaparral (Southwestern League), 0-0
The Pumas open their season Friday night against visiting Oceanside, the two-time defending Division I state bowl champion which is coming off a 31-7 drubbing at the hands of Servite last Thursday, ending its 39-game winning streak.

2. Vista Murrieta (Southwestern League), 0-0
The Broncos also had the luxury of scouting their first opponent in person last week. Etiwanda, which is scheduled to travel to Vista Murrieta on Friday, allowed 42 points in a seven-point loss Thurday against Summit High of Fontana. Summit doesn't have a bonafide quarterback, but Vista Murrieta surely does in three-year starter Derrick Brown.

3. Corona Centennial (Big VIII League), 0-0
Centennial has been chomping at the bit to get started this season and first up is an intersectional game at Birmingham High of Lake Balboa, which is coming off a 16-7 victory Friday against West Adams of Los Angeles, its first victory in a season opener since 2001.

4. Norco (Big VIII League), 0-0
One of the more intriguing intersectional matchups of the season will happen Friday when Norco hosts Crenshaw of Los Angeles. Crenshaw is led by running back De'Anthony Thomas, who has verbally committed to USC. Norco will lean on running back Kelsey Young, who has pledged to Stanford.

5. Riverside Arlington (Inland Valley League), 0-0
Arlington will open its season Friday against host El Camino of Oceanside, which scored on a blocked punt, a fumble return and a kickoff return in a 36-7 victory Saturday against Gardena. The Wildcats best defender is ophomore linebacker Justin Williams, who had three sacks against Gardena and scored on the fumble return.

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