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Justin Alumbaugh will all but likely be asked to replace the most famous high school football coach in America.  EDITOR’S NOTE: This short featurette...

Justin Alumbaugh will all but likely be asked to replace the most famous high school football coach in America. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This short featurette ran in our Dec. 20, 2012, issue as part of a five-part feature on the faces who represented each of the 2012 Norhern California CIF Bowl representatives. 

NEXT FACE: Justin Alumbaugh, De La Salle, Open Division

If the game wasn’t the secondary story at the time of kick off, it certainly was by the time De La Salle lead Centennial-Corona 28-0 with three and a half minutes left in the first half.

On Dec. 1, when 34-year Spartans coaching legend Bob Ladouceur remarked to a local TV personality that he was considering retirement “this year or next,” it became the undercurrent to the last two weeks of De La Salle’s season. And, indirectly, it started the clock on when presumed-successor Justin Alumbaugh would officially fill the biggest shoes in high school football coaching history. 

Did the two weeks of speculation finally make any of that real to Alumbaugh?

“Not one bit,” Alumbaugh said as he beamed a smile while De La Salle players celebrated a 48-28 win. “I’ve been working with these guys as a group since Jan. 8 on strength and conditioning. The last three weeks, I was focusing on them and them only. 

“Of course, you see the paper, and some of the guys I used to play with gave me a call. … But it wasn’t a distraction for anybody. We (as coaches) were too focused on making sure these guys got what they deserved. And they deserved a state title. And they deserved the coaching to get them a state title.”

Ladouceur said after the game that he wasn’t going to make any decision until after the holiday season [UPDATE: Ladouceur officially stepped down on Jan. 4]. The Open Division victory ran his career record to 399-25-2, all with the Spartans. He’s 5-2 in bowl games and his program is 52-0 against a California team since his last CIF Bowl loss in December 2008. 

“He’s been hinting at (retirement) for years,” said defensive coordinator Terry Eidson, who has coached along side Ladouceur for 32 seasons. “I think what he’s decided is that it’s going to happen soon and he’s ready to let people know that.”

Meanwhile, Alumbaugh remains emphatically devoted to the duties he has now, which are many, including the beginning of a new strength and conditioning program with returning players early in 2013.

 “We’ve been relying on Justin heavily since Lad had his heart attack (in 2003),” Eidson said. “When that day comes, he’s more than ready to take this over. The bottom line, and the best way to say it is, we wouldn’t probably still be coaching if we didn’t have Justin. That’s how valuable he’s been to our program.”

— Chace Bryson
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