The article below originally appeared on the MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
Larry Owens doesn’t seem concerned that his coaching career might come to an end on Saturday at College Heights Stadium.
“My focus is on helping these kids be successful,” said Owens, in his 21st season as head coach at College of San Mateo. “This whole thing has never been about me, it’s always been about the kids that I’ve coached from Woodside, to Pop Warner, to Humboldt (State) and NFL Europe. It’s about them, not about me.”
“When I get older and I’m done, then I can probably look back. But during the game, during this period of time, I don’t think about that stuff.”
That includes 128 wins, 90 losses — and counting — at CSM for the Sequoia High graduate.
Owens earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Cal State Fullerton and holds a master’s degree in administration/physical education from St. Mary’s College.
Earlier this year, East Palo Alto honored him with a lifetime achievement award and proclamation for his years of service to the community.
But it wasn’t until midway through this season that Owens decided to retire.
“It was just time,” Owens said.
Sharing the news allowed for a ceremony during the regular-season finale two weeks ago. Not only did former players he coached at CSM and Woodside show up, but so did high school teammates.
“It was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Owens said. “It was probably the utopia I would say of my life. It’s a great feeling and it’s hard to describe, because every time I think about it faces pop up that I hadn’t seen in years. And texts and the emails I received from people were outstanding. I felt honored and humbled.”
Now it’s a matter of making it last as long as possible.
No. 3 CSM (9-1) hosts No. 8 College of the Siskiyous (8-2) at noon in the semifinals of the four-team NorCal Regional playoffs.
The Bulldogs are back-to-back Bay 6 League champions, with their lone loss a 21-20 setback against No. 2 American River (9-1), which is the top seed in NorCals and hosts No. 5 Laney (9-1) at 6 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity for these kids,” said Owens, the Bay 6 Coach of the Year. “You’re one of four teams in the playoffs, and that’s a special thing in itself.”
Among the key contributors for CSM on offense:
- freshman quarterback Miles Kendrick (Valley Christian), who leads Northern California in passing efficiency and has thrown for 1,486 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions;
- freshman running back Cameron Taylor (Hillsdale), who is tied for seventh in the state with 14 rushing TDs;
- the wide receiver tandem of freshman Rajae Johnson, fourth in the state with 993 yards on 40 catches and 11 touchdowns, and sophomore Jared Latu (San Mateo), who had 41 catches for 690 yards and eight touchdowns.
“A lot of people forget about the o-line,” Owens said. “They’ve been playing better and better as the year went on. They solidified themselves and did a real great job.”
The defense is anchored by a pair of inside linebackers in Colt Doughty (Los Gatos), the Bay 6 Defensive Player of the Year, and Dorrzel Hicks.
The Bulldogs held foes to 70.7 rushing yard per game, which ranks second in Northern California and fifth in the state.
“All those kids are key and critical to us,” Owens said. “And they’ve all done great things.”
Siskiyous presents a balanced attack — it averages 176.7 yards through the air and 171.9 yards on the ground.
CSM will need to watch out for COS linebacker Daniel Hardy, who led the NorCal League with eight sacks.
“They can make quick adjustment and we have to make quicker adjustments as the game goes on,” Owens said. “See what they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to attack us in all phases — offense, defense and special teams.”
He added: “They’re 8-2, we’re 9-1, it’s not that much difference.”