The hard part was saying goodbye.
Paul Doherty on Thursday called for one last mandatory meeting at Sacramento High School, gathering the football players he had coached and mentored for four years.
He announced that he had resigned as the Dragons’ coach after six program-defining seasons. Doherty accepted the same post at Whitney, replacing founding program coach Mike Gimenez, who stepped down last month to catch his breath from the rigors of the job.
“Leaving those kids, saying goodbye,” Doherty said Saturday afternoon, “was the most difficult and crushing decision I’ve ever made. I’m so invested into that group. Great kids, and they deserve the best. I gave Sac High the best decade of my life. It’s time for a change.”
Doherty is entering a new phase in his life, beyond the field. His wife, Kari, is expecting their first child in April. And he craved a new football challenge. Doherty met with his new team – freshman, junior varsity and varsity players – on Friday. On Saturday, the Wildcats held their first team workout, in the weight room, which doubled as a deeper form of meet-and-greet.
“Fifty guys showed up,” Doherty said. “Wow. That’s great. A lot of emotions going on at both schools now, and for me, too. I haven’t slept for a couple of weeks. I told both groups, the Sac High and Whitney kids, that when a coach leaves, like Gimenez or me, there’s anger, uncertainty, confusion, sadness. All these variables are natural, perfectly normal.”
Doherty’s tireless efforts yielded breakthrough results. Sacramento won a playoff game for the first time in 2013 and last fall won a road playoff game for the first time. Whitney has been a regional powerhouse as well.
Del Oro had just one individual champion with Landon McBride at 113 pounds, but no team had more depth.
The local champions:
113 – Landon McBride, Del Oro.
115 – Devan Turner, Dixon.
145 – Brandon Claiborne, Oak Ridge.
152 – Zack Velasquez, Ponderosa.
160 – Lorenzo de La Riva, Folsom.
220 – Jerod Nooner, Folsom.
225 – Jake Minshew, Casa Roble.