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I.E.: Leach back in the saddle at Etiwanda

1/17/2012

Getting caught up on some news and notes from around the Inland Empire…

The next stop for football coach Tom Leach will be at Etiwanda High School. Leach takes over for Stephen Bryce, who resigned in December after seven seasons at the school, in part to get the crib ready for his first child.

Leach has been highly successful and somewhat controversial during stops at Diamond Ranch High in Pomona and Chaparral in Temecula.

In 2004, he took over a Diamond Ranch program that finished 3-7 the season before. He promptly led the Panthers to a 9-3-1 mark in his first year and a trip to the Division 8 semifinals. After losing their first eight games the following season and finishing 2-8, Leach moved on to Chaparral.

Again, he took over a team with a losing record the previous season and guided the Pumas to an 11-3 mark and a trip to the Inland Division championship game. Chaparral lost that game and was beaten in the final again two years later, but broke through to win the program’ first title in 2009. During that season, Leach was suspended for a game after directing his players to point to the scoreboard after a victory against Southwestern League rival Murrieta Valley.

The Pumas were expected to be one of the top teams in the state heading into the 2010 season and ramped up their nonleague schedule to include several other Southland powers, but Chaparral lost its first four games and finished 4-7.

Shortly after the season ended, he was fired by the school principal, despite a 47-19 overall record at the school. Several on-campus protests were held by players and parents who wanted Leach to continue running the program.

Leach responded to his firing with this lengthy letter to the editor in the Daily Californian, which serves Southwest Riverside County.

He spent last season as a defensive backs coach at Norco.

Among the players Leach has coached the last eight seasons is Charles Brown, the former USC offensive tackle who was a starter for the New Orleans Saints before a hip flexor ended his season in November. Talmadge Jackson, a defensive back on the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tyler Hansen, the starting quarterback at Colorado last season who was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., played for Leach at Chaparral.

Etiwanda opened last season with a victory against eventual Eastern Division champion Summit, but ended up losing five games by a touchdown or less (a nonleague loss to Vista Murrieta was later forfeited by the Broncos). Three of the losses came in league play, keeping the Eagles out of the postseason for the first time since 2005.

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The Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team, coming off a trip to the Southern California Regional finals last season, forfeited five victories for using an ineligible player who had transferred from another school.

The Huskies are in rebuilding mode after last season’s senior-led run. The forfeits drop their record to 1-17 this season, including 1-5 in Big VIII League play.

Centennial guard Sam Finley, who transferred from Riverside King to Centennial in the offseason and was leading the team in scoring at 19.6 points through 13 games, is also no longer with the team.