Updated 4:15 p.m.Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco)
has named highly popular and successful Bay Area coach Ken Peralta as its new varsity football coach.
Peralta, a 1979 graduate of Sacred Heart, led
Marin Catholic (Kentfield)
to four Marin County Athletic League and two North Coast Section titles
in seven seasons. His high point was leading the Wildcats into a state
Division III bowl game in 2009.
Marin Catholic went 13-2 that
season and surprised most by giving one of the nation’s top
teams Serra-Gardena a highly competitive game before losing 24-20. Serra
featured three sure-fire future NFL players, Marqise Lee, Robert Woods
and George Farmer.
In seven seasons as coach at Marin Catholic,
Peralta went 65-24 overall and 44-10 in MCAL play. Peralta stepped down
to watch his children grow up, including son Jerry, who just completed his senior year at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
reached by phone Friday afternoon, said details of the job were
finalized Thursday night. He called leaving Marin Catholic
"bittersweet," but couldn't contain his excitement about coaching at his
"I see nothing but upside," he said.
When Peralta stepped down in 2010, he said: “I’m not giving up coaching…I love coaching. It is in my blood and I
consider it my calling in life. ... Over the years, I
have seen a lot of boys play football. Last season I only had the
opportunity to see two of my son’s games. I owe it to my son, my family
and myself to make some time and see him play.”
coaching Marin Catholic's freshman team to a 25-2 record over three
seasons, Peralta is more than ready to get back to the varsity ranks.
At his old school.
"It was just a golden opportunity staring at me in
the face," he said Friday. "From the facilities to playing at one of the most
historic stadiums in the state (Kezar Stadium) to a brand new weight
room to the best weights coach in the league (Colin Peuse) to an
administration that wants to be top tier to good players and good kids, I
see nothing but total upside."
Practicing off-campus two or
three times a week — Sacred Heart Cathedral's on-campus facility in the
middle of the City is small (70 yards long by 35 yards wide) and they
have no locker rooms for players to store equipment — has been at issue
and perhaps a reason participation has been down. The team practices at
least twice a week at Westmoor-Daly City, which has a brand new football
facility, including artificial turf, but no football team.
no one is saying for sure, those lack of numbers plus a 9-26 West
Catholic Athletic League record is what led to the Irish not rehiring
highly devoted coach John Lee, who in nine seasons went 45-50 overall
and led the team to its only Central Coast Section title in 2008.
have everything we need here to win," Peralta said. "As long as I'm
here you won't hear anything about a lack of facilities. You'll never
hear 'woe is me.' "
Peralta did his homework. He noted a half
dozen powerhouse teams throughout the country — Mater Dei (Santa Ana),
St. Joseph (N.J.) and Orange Lutheran (Orange) — who all have off-campus
And Peralta, who led Riordan to a historic and undefeated WCAL title in
2000, said "unequivocally" the Irish can compete in the vaunted WCAL,
considered the top football league in Northern California. Sacred Heart
Cathedral's roster has been in the middle 30s the last couple of years.
Most WCAL squads range from 50-70.
"I wouldn't come back to doing this if we were playing for sixth place," Peralta said. "We're going to play for first place."
Peralta is full speed ahead, he said leaving Marin Catholic isn't easy.
He'll teach there throughout the end of the school year but peek in
before school — he and his wife and children live in San Bruno — to
Sacred Heart Cathedral's weight room with Peuse.
"I will always
have great love for Marin Catholic," Peralta said. "Everyone there has
been nothing but great to me. I spent 10 great years there. They will
always be my family and close to my heart. ... But this is a move that
is the best move for family. At 52, that's how I make my decisions now.
When I was young, it was just 'Let's go!' "
Peralta's daughter attends Sacred Heart Cathedral as does a niece and nephew.
superb communicator, Peralta kept his bosses at Marin Catholic aware
that he applied to Sacred Heart Cathedral. He had earnest exchanges, he
said, with Lee, whom he calls a friend.
Peralta said he would
start figuring out his staff over the next several weeks. "I have a lot
of people to speak with," he said.
In a statement, Sacred Heart Cathedral athletic director Phil Freed said:
hiring of Ken will not only be a huge asset for the football program,
but for the entire school as he possesses skill sets that extend far
beyond the football field. I am excited to be able to work with someone
such as Ken who has had such great success both on and off the field
with the student-athletes that he has coached over his career."
More from Sacred Heart Cathedral press release on the hiring of Peralta: After
graduating from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts
in Physical Education/Health, Peralta went on to pursue a career working
with young people. He began his coaching career as an assistant at SHC
in 1981 and went on to earn a master' degree at the University of New
Mexico. He coached at several other schools around the West before
returning to San Francisco as the head coach at Archbishop Riordan High
School. He led the Crusaders to an undefeated WCAL championship and an
appearance in the Central Coast Section final in 2000 before taking over
as the offensive line coach at Cabrillo College for two years.
2003, Peralta took over as head varsity coach at Marin Catholic,
establishing the Wildcats as a dominant force in the MCAL and NCS, and
led them to the CIF Division III State Championship bowl in 2009. He
stepped down as head varsity coach a year later to become the head
freshman football coach at MC in order to spend more time with family,
including his son, SHC varsity quarterback, Jerry Peralta '13. Marin
Catholic's freshman team went 25-2 with Peralta at the helm.
Peralta will take over SHC's varsity program, which won their first
ever CCS title in 2008 and advanced to another sectional final in 2011.
In addition to coaching football, Peralta will be a teacher in the
Religious Studies Department at SHC.