Los Angeles Preps: Tom Leach

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

January, 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.

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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: The top 10

September, 14, 2010
Norco leapfrogged Chaparral of Temecula in the rankings this week after the Cougars posted an impressive victory against visiting Crenshaw of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, down Interstate 15, Chaparral was getting knocked off its perch by Oceanside. Palm Springs wasn't impressive against short-handed Arroyo Valley, and Rancho Verde couldn't shake San Gorgonio until the fourth quarter.

1. (2) Vista Murrieta (1-0)

Jovonte Slater, eighth in the 100 meters at the state track and field finals last June, showed he's good on synthetic turf as well, running for two scores and returning a punt for another against Etiwanda. Last week: Beat Etiwanda, 49-27. Next: at Corona Santiago, Friday.

2. (3) Corona Centennial (1-0)

Barrinton Collins has made the move from wide receiver to running back look seamless and coach Matt Logan like a genius, rushing for five touchdowns against Birmingham of Lake Balboa. Last week: Beat Birmingham, 48-8. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Friday

3. (4) Norco (1-0)

Despite a sore hip, Kelsey Young rushed for just under 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars came from behind to defeat Crenshaw of Los Angeles. Last week: Beat Crenshaw, 25-21. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Colony, Friday

4. (1) Temecula Chaparral (0-1)

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Pumas over the next three weeks, but coach Tom Leach wouldn’t have it any other way. Last week: Lost to Oceanside, 21-14. Next: vs. Fresno Central, Friday

5. (5) Riverside Arlington (1-0)

Superiorr Reid spoiled the grand opening of El Camino’s new stadium by catching the go-ahead touchdown with 39 seconds remaining. Last week: Beat El Camino, 14-10. Next: vs. Riverside Poly at Riverside Ramona, Friday

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Inland Empire: Chaparral back in the spotlight

August, 31, 2010
Chaparral showed some emotion last season, sometimes too much so. But whatever drummer the Pumas marched to, it did the trick as they won the school's first even Southern Section football title.

Now, coach Tom Leach is trying to determine what motivates this season's team, all while facing a schedule that hasn't gotten any easier. Click here to read more.