Joe Davidson

Pleasant Grove coach Rossow steps away to focus on health

Jason Rossow, right, seen in 2008 meeting then Elk Grove football coach Carlos Meraz.
Jason Rossow, right, seen in 2008 meeting then Elk Grove football coach Carlos Meraz. Sacramento Bee file

Jason Rossow lives for family and football.

But Rossow made a gut-wrenching decision this week. He turned in his whistle and play sheet to surround himself with his nuclear team of his parents, wife and two young children as he re-engages in a fight for his life.

Rossow, 38, stepped down as Pleasant Grove High School’s coach in an effort to ward off any signs of brain cancer that hospitalized him in 2014. After a year of treatment, family and love of the game inspired Rossow, who played at Elk Grove,to return last fall. He coached the Eagles to the playoffs in a season highlighted by supporters wearing T-shirts that read: “Team Rossow: Crush Cancer.”

Team Rossow is rallying again.

“It’s been a tough two years battling this disease,” said Rossow, who will continue teaching English at the school. “For a few months now, my body has been breaking down, and I continued to fight through it as I wanted to be out there for my team. They have been with me every step of the way, and I wanted to do the same for them.

“Through prayer, family discussion, medical consultations and inner thought, I knew I needed to prioritize and get healthy.”

The Elk Grove Unified School District was quick to fill the void with quality replacements, plucking two longtime coaches, not active this season, to fill in on an interim basis. Lew Lassetter and Steve Robards, both teachers at Cosumnes Oaks, inherit an 0-3 team reeling from the loss of their leader.

Lassetter was the head coach at Laguna Creek in the 1990s and 2000s and was on the football staff at Cosumnes Oaks in recent years. Robards coached Delta in Clarksburg to Northern Section championships in the 1990s and also coached at Cosumnes Oaks.

Rossow got his itch to coach from his father, Tom, who coached football for decades at Elk Grove, including his son’s teams. What Rossow dreads missing, besides games on Friday nights, is his 6-year-old son, Luke, and 4-year-old daughter, Emma, racing onto the field and into his arms.

I love coaching, and those (players) gave me everything they had. I loved having my little ones run around the field after games like I used to with my dad. Once I get healthy, I want to get back out there for all of that.

Jason Rossow

“I love coaching, and those (players) gave me everything they had,” Rossow said. “I loved having my little ones run around the field after games like I used to with my dad. Once I get healthy, I want to get back out there for all of that.”

Beavers vs. Rams – American River College, ranked first in the JC Athletic Bureau Northern California football poll and third in the state, hosts perennial power City College of San Francisco on Saturday at 6 p.m.

CCSF (1-1), ranked third in Northern California, is coming off its seventh state championship. The Rams lost only to ARC last season.

With its upgraded home field not ready until this week, ARC (2-0) beat Modesto 47-33 Saturday at Cosumnes River College in the first community college game there since the school dropped football in 1978. ARC freshman quarterback Griffin Dahn rushed for three touchdowns and passed for 306 yards and three scores, including a 98-yarder to Damen Wheeler Jr.

It was Wheeler’s first game since the wide receiver played at Sacramento High in 2014. As The Bee’s Offensive Player of the Year, Wheeler set a state record for receiving yards in a game with 380, helping the Dragons to a 48-38 victory over Christian Brothers in the Division III playoffs. Wheeler had four touchdown catches against CBS, including a national-record-tying 99-yarder, despite a hernia injury that prevented him from practicing.

98Yardage of touchdown pass from American River College freshman Griffin Dahn to Damen Wheeler Jr. against Modesto last week

And yes, his nickname is “Wheels.” His father, the 1995 Bee Player of the Year from Valley, also went by “Wheels.”

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