Young steps down as WHS coach; Summers is top candidate to replace him
After coaching both football and boys basketball the past two seasons at Whittell High School, Dennis Young thought he was cheating one group of athletes. That thought process influenced his decision to resign as the Warriors’ football coach last month.
Young went 0-15 during his two seasons at Whittell, which has battled limited numbers and declining interest in football among the student body. Young will continue to coach the basketball team, which hosts Battle Mountain on Friday night at 7:30.
“I decided to step down over the Christmas vacation,” Young said. “It’s just one of those things where the basketball program suffered because I coached the football team. The first two weeks of the basketball season suffered. It’s not right for the basketball program for me to do that.”
Young was Whittell’s seventh head football coach in the past seven seasons and only its second coach to stay more than one season. Mike Kiger and Larry Reilly were co-coaches in 2000 and Nick Samaras was hired in 2003 but the program was canceled that year because of low numbers.
The last coach to stay more than one season was John Summers, who coached during the 1998-99 seasons. In 1999, the Warriors had to forfeit their first game of the season because of low numbers. However, the team was able to attract more players and played the remainder of its schedule and finished 2-6.
Since 1997, the Warriors are 10-58 and their lone winning season during that span came in 2000, when they went 5-4 and lost in the first round of the regional playoffs. Although Whittell currently has a 16-game losing streak that started after a first-round regional playoff loss in 2002, Young feels the program is headed in the right direction.
“The important thing is we got the program back going again,” Young said. “It will be going into good hands. I know it’s going to be taken over by a perfect person.”
A source, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said the new coach will likely be Summers, who last coached in 1999 and has a long history at Whittell.
The school hasn’t made an official announcement yet.
Summers was as assistant to long-time head coach Gary Lundergreen, who coached for 20 years and resigned in 1988 after leading Whittell to its last state football title. Summers went 2-15 during his two-year stint as head coach in the late 1990s.
Young plans on coaching the basketball team after this season. His son, Jeff, is a senior who played football and is the Warriors’ leading scorer in basketball.
Whittell athletic director Steve Maltase agrees with Young’s decision.
“I understand where he’s coming from,” said Maltase, who became the athletic director in December after Joey Davis resigned. “What he’s talking about makes sense. Football has been a tough program to coach.”
WHS-Hawthorne game rescheduled
The Whittell varsity basketball teams will play Hawthorne next Wednesday in Zephyr Cove. The girls’ game starts at 4 p.m. and the boys’ game at 5:30 p.m. The game was rescheduled after a snowstorm on Jan. 14 postponed the originally scheduled game between the Northern 2A programs.
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