Whittell hires football coach | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell hires football coach

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Jeff Jones has been looking for the right opportunity to return to teaching and coaching. The former Bay Area player and coach found it at Whittell High School.

Jones was named Whittell’s new football coach in May, succeeding David Atherton. Atherton announced his resignation prior to his final season with the Warriors.

For nearly the past two decades, Jones has been employed in construction. He last coached in 1992 at Burlingame High School. He also was part of high school coaching staffs at Jefferson and Santa Clara.

Before becoming interested in coaching in the 1980s, Jones was a football and baseball player at Jefferson High. He went on to play both sports at Skyline Junior College and San Jose State before recurring knee problems ended his dual playing careers.

“I wanted to get back into teaching and I saw this opening,” Jones said. “It’s neat to be at a small school like this.”

Jones lives in South Reno and hopes to be on campus as much as possible as a substitute teacher. He has served as substitute teacher in the Washoe County District while operating a construction business.

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Coaching stability helped return Whittell High School’s football program to respectability in the past four years. Two-year coaching stints by John Summers and Atherton increased the Warriors’ roster size and fostered the school’s return to the playoffs the past two seasons. Jones is the Warriors’ 10th coach in the past 14 years.

Atherton announced his resignation prior to last season, citing a need to devote more time to his career and personal life as reasons for leaving the program.

In his two seasons in charge of the Warriors, Atherton’s teams compiled a 10-9 record and went to the playoffs twice, losing to Battle Mountain both times.

Jones appreciates what his predecessors did for the program, and he expects similar results in the coming seasons.

“Atherton did a good job getting them on board and putting a winning tradition back together. The kids seem to be fired up about it,” Jones said. “There’s a different coaching philosophy from him to me, and I’m there to win football games.”

A low turnout forced the school to shut down the program for the 2003 season, but the Warriors’ roster has expanded to 28 players as of last season.

“If I can get to 25 players I’d be real happy,” Jones said. “We’re not going to be one of the bigger teams on the field, but we have some pretty good athletes to put out there to become competitive and win some football games.”

Sophomore quarterback Austin Buyak has been impressed by his new coach’s football knowledge.

“What I know is that he is very knowledgeable with the whole picture of football,” Buyak said. “I’m thinking he’s going to do a good job.”

Whittell students interested in playing for the team in the fall can participate in nonmandatory workouts from 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the school’s gym.

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