Brian Baer / Bee file, 2012

Granite Bay football coach Ernie Cooper announced his retirement just days before his team was to participate in a camp, and three months before its opener, shows how the sport’s year-round approach can take a toll.

Rested and ready, Ernie Cooper returns as Granite Bay High football coach

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 - 11:55 pm

Ernie Cooper insists the news isn’t a big deal. He’s returning as head football coach at Granite Bay High School, and it is in fact a big deal.

After taking the 2013 season off to recharge, Cooper confirmed he is ready to resume the job he started when Granite Bay opened in 1996. Cooper quickly transformed the Grizzlies into a Sac-Joaquin Section power.

With Cooper as coach, the Grizzlies won 10 league championships and five section titles. The crowning achievement was in 2012 with Sierra Foothill League, Division I section and NorCal Regional titles and a late drive to beat Long Beach Poly for the CIF State D-I banner. He was The Bee’s 2012 Coach of the Year and the Cal-Hi Sports and MaxPreps state Coach of the Year.

Cooper, a man who knows only one frenetic speed, coached Granite Bay throughout last spring before deciding to step away.

“I’m back, but it’s not that big of a deal,” Cooper said Friday. “People make it out to be bigger than it really is, but I’m just glad to be back. I was tired of coaching, to be honest with you.

“Last spring, it hit me that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I’m not ashamed to say it. I needed a break. And then I caught the fever again with the players. We have a great thing here. We’ve been fortunate. We have great support and an administration that bends over backward to help us.”

Cooper praised Skip Albano, an off-and-on Grizzlies assistant for years who assumed interim head coaching duties last summer and led the program back to the postseason.

“Skip righted the ship, did a great job,” Cooper said. “When I stepped away, that was quite a hurdle. I’m really impressed with what he and the staff did. I felt bad for the seniors. I let them down. We were coming off a state championship. They wanted to go and get another one, give it their best shot, and I stepped away.”


Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson



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