Charlie Ramirez Is The First New Pittsburg Football Coach In 21 Years — His Own High School Coach And Former Players Share What To Expect •
It was part high-step, part strut and pure emotional release.
Charlie Ramirez stormed up the sideline away from a Pittsburg High defense celebrating another 4th down stop as the rain fell over Pirates Stadium during the late stages of the CIF Division 1-A Northern Regional final. The Pirates’ defensive coordinator then quickly pivoted and shot back up the sideline to start slapping helmets and deliver a few chest bumps.
It’s that visceral emotion and investment in every play that Pittsburg defenders past and present consistently bring up when asked about the defensive coordinator who was officially named the new Pittsburg football coach on Dec. 14.
“There’s a real passion and love for the game with him,” said Jacob Bandes, a 2018 Pittsburg graduate currently part of the defensive line rotation for the University of Washington. “Before certain games he’d give a speech, and before you know it he’d be flipping tables and throwing chairs against the wall and music starts to play and we’d be fired up.
“You would not believe how many chairs were broken.”
Charlie Ramirez, first of his name. Breaker of Chairs.
All kidding aside, Ramirez has lived and died with Pittsburg football for more than 30 years. He was a sophomore linebacker on the famed 1991 Pirates team that defeated De La Salle-Concord for the North Coast Section championship. That team remains the last NCS team to beat the Spartans.
Ramirez, 47, returned to the Pirates program and coached in the lower divisions before being elevated to defensive coordinator where he served for 10 years. During that span, the Pirates have won a pair of NCS Div. I titles and reached a pair of CIF State Bowl Championship games.
When longtime Pittsburg football coach Victor Galli announced in early November that his 21st season would be his last, those who knew the program best assumed Ramirez would be the top internal candidate. Which meant there was little surprise on Dec. 14 when the Pittsburg Unified School Board unanimously approved his promotion.
“Who else would it be?,” former Pirates linebacker Jack Lacy III asked. Lacy was also a 2018 graduate who just finished up his second straight 1st Team All-Conference season for Diablo Valley College. “Especially with the resume. He’s a Pitt guy who played there. Somebody recently shared some YouTube video of that 1991 team, so I’ve watched his film. I’ve never seen a film that old, but I watched Ram, and I was like ‘Damn, he’s good.’”
As his high school coach Herc Pardi tells it, that 1991 season fell into place when he and the coaching staff moved Ramirez to inside linebacker.
“Early in the season, the coaches decided to move Charlie to the inside spot and it transformed our entire defense,” Pardi said “That decision to pair him in the middle with Anthony Shipe was the catalyst for that team, defensively. … They were two of the best we ever had at the position.”
While Pardi moved on from Pittsburg to coach several years at Clayton Valley-Concord before retiring, he’s always followed the Pirates program and its coaches.
He noted that the Pittsburg defense plays to Ramirez’s personality, and is a representation of how Charlie was as a player.
“Smart as a whip with great instincts and very intense,” Pardi said. “His players are always in the right place. They know their landmarks and know their keys. They’re coached up. … He’s phenomenal, and he’s the right guy for the job. The only guy for the job, really.”
Galli will be a very tough act to follow, though.
In his 21 seasons, he posted a record of 182-68-1 with 14 Bay Valley Athletic League titles, two NCS championships and the two CIF State Bowl appearances.
Ramirez is ready to embrace the challenge. He’s always been ready to embrace a challenge, leaning on meticulous preparation that former players marvel about.
“His level of preparation is comparable, if not better than many college coaches,” said Lacy, who spent a redshirt year at Sacramento State before transferring to DVC. “When I got to the next level, everything felt routine because I’d already been through so much of it at Pittsburg.”
A little less than 24 hours removed from the official announcement of his promotion, Ramirez walked through campus as the sun set on another day of instruction.
“I didn’t know it was going to quite feel like this,” he said. “It felt like a dream come true. And it wasn’t relief. It was a sense of euphoria.
“The last 24 hours has been everything that I thought it could be and more. The outpouring of support from family, alumni, former players, former teammates, former coaches — it’s been flattering and humbling at the same time.”
He was asked to put a ballpark on the number of texts he’d received in his first day as the Pittsburg football coach.
“I’d say an over-under of 200 texts. I would take the over,” he said with a chuckle. “Add in the social media messages, forget about it. I haven’t even got to those yet.”
Ramirez is in his first year working on the campus as a restorative disciplinary teacher. Thursday, Dec. 15, was also the first day he got to meet with the players who will be returning for 2023.
“It was a collective positive vibe for sure,” Ramirez said. “I felt the excitement, and the coaches who were there felt the excitement. Everyone is looking forward to what’s coming ahead.”
Excitement is the vibe throughout the program and its alumni. Especially with the Pirates coming off back-to-back NCS titles and a trip to the CIF Div. 1-A State Bowl Championship game. Pittsburg lost 48-20 to Liberty-Bakersfield in the final, and will graduate a number of Division I-bound players.
Galli definitely didn’t leave the cupboard bare, though. There are several building blocks that should return, including rising juniors Marley Alcantara at quarterback, Elijah Bow at running back, Jadyn Hudson at receiver and defensive back, Etene Pritchard Jr. at linebacker and Juju Walls at defensive end.
“Our goal is still the same. Same as it was last year and the year before,” Ramirez said. “We’re trying to win a state championship. Is it going to feel a little different, and look a little different? Sure, but that’s how we evolve. We’ll get to where we want to be, and that’s winning that state championship.”
You won’t find many who doubt him. Keep an eye out for that high-stepping strut.