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  • José Luis Villegas /

    Bella Vista coach Tom Ingles, center, had a Hall of Fame career in Washington, where he won three state football championships.

  • José Luis Villegas /

    Tom Ingles coached varsity football for 33 seasons in Washington. His Bella Vista assistant, Pete De Toro, played for him 35 years ago.

  • Tom Ingles

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    Age: 63

    Honors: Washington State Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee, 2004.

    Overall record: 248-102

    1977-1989: Liberty High School, Renton, Wash., 86-45. State AA title 1988.

    1990-2003: Kentwood High School, Covington, Wash., 114-40. State AAA titles 2001, 2002.

    2004-2009: Puyallup High School, 48-17.

    Quote: "He doesn't yell and he's not overly aggressive, but there's something about him that makes you not want to let him down or do the wrong thing."

    – Austin Harmer, junior quarterback

Coach Tom Ingles' old-school ways could recharge Bella Vista program

Published: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C

Pete De Toro is a gregarious, self-assured cybersecurity expert who has worked 16 seasons as a Bella Vista High School assistant football coach.

But when he glances at new Broncos head coach Tom Ingles, he can't help but harken back 35 years to his days as a rudderless 15-year-old in a new town and state.

Ingles helped set De Toro on the right course.

He coached De Toro in football and basketball at Liberty High School, a newly opened school in Renton, Wash. But Ingles offered the Southern California transplant a lot more than how to tackle and rebound.

"I grew up without a father, so he was like a father to me," De Toro said. "He had a huge influence on my life as far as how to treat people, work ethic and giving back. Even then, I knew I was playing for someone special."

Many of the players on this year's Bella Vista football team are starting to realize the same thing.

While junior quarterback Austin Harmer already knew Ingles is in the Washington State Coaches Association Hall of Fame with an impeccable record of success, he was shocked last spring when the 63-year-old Ingles wanted to meet individually with him, something he would do with every Bella Vista player.

"I've never had a coach do that before," Harmer said. "I got the sense right away that he wants to know more about you as a person than just as a football player. He's unlike any coach I have ever had."

Senior running back Joe Anderson is used to coaches yelling and screaming to get attention. Ingles has a different approach.

"What stands out to me is his calm tone," Anderson said. "Even when you know he's upset with you, he remains calm."

They appreciate his patience, attention to detail, sense of humor, magnetic storytelling and throwback conditioning drills.

"We're working harder than ever, and yet it doesn't seem like hard work, even though it's exhausting," Harmer said.

Ingles coached varsity football for 33 seasons in Washington, winning 248 games and three state championships.

He moved to Woodland to join his wife, Zena, who works as a junior high principal in Davis. Ingles had stayed in Washington to provide end-of-life care for his parents.

"At first, I didn't miss coaching," said Ingles, who last coached at Puyallup High in 2009. "I was so busy with the move down here. But after a while my wife told me I needed to find something to do. It wasn't exactly an ultimatum, but I was missing football."

Ingles had seen Bella Vista play a couple of times and through De Toro had gotten to know then-head coach Matt Polston and some of the players. When Polston stepped down at the end of the 2011 season, Ingles applied and was hired.

"When I learned he got the job, I was excited for BV and the kids," said De Toro, also an assistant boys basketball coach at Bella Vista. "Someone with his quality and credentials doesn't come along every day. That I get to share this coaching experience with him, I have to pinch myself."

Ingles' goals are simple. Elevate the football program to the level of championship caliber established by the boys' soccer, basketball and baseball teams on campus.

Bella Vista finished 3-7 last season (0-5 in the Capital Valley Conference). The Broncos have been to the playoffs just once in the past eight years, so Ingles isn't predicting any miracles.

"There is some really good high school football here," Ingles said. "I've been weeding through film of our league rivals, and from what I've seen so far, we've got our work cut out for us. It takes awhile to put a program into place."

Ingles also is trying to adjust to the football culture shock.

He's amazed at how much parental fundraising and booster support is required at Bella Vista compared to his days in Washington; the contrast in the quality of the facilities; and how close schools are to one another geographically – thwarting the concept of school loyalty.

"The financing is very different," Ingles said. "In Washington, (student body) fees pay for everything. Here, you have parents cutting the grass, washing the uniforms, raising money for coaching stipends.

"Up there, we had two Astro-turf fields, and we never played on grass (Bella Vista's stadium has a grass field). So that's going to be a big change."

Bella Vista has played in the shadows of neighboring powerhouse league rivals Del Campo and Casa Roble, which are within 10 minutes of the Fair Oaks school.

"In Washington, the schools are so geographically spread out that kids grow up wanting to play for their neighborhood schools," Ingles said. "You knew if a kid came to your school as a ninth-grader, you'd have him until he was a senior."

Ingles' biggest personal adjustment has been acclimating to the summer heat. He's drinking copious amounts of water as the thermometer has hovered around 100 degrees since practice started Aug. 6.

"The heat is a dramatic change for me," Ingles said during another steamy practice. "I bring out six, 20-ounce waters and drink them all.

"In Washington, I'd drink water maybe once during a practice. But 80 degrees up there would be a really hot day."

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