Joe Davidson

New Del Oro football coach Jeff Walters comes full circle

Golden Eagles fans during the CIF state Division I-AA championship game between the Del Oro Golden Eagles and the San Clemente Tritons at Sac State in Sacramento on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The San Clemente Tritons won the game 22-17.
Golden Eagles fans during the CIF state Division I-AA championship game between the Del Oro Golden Eagles and the San Clemente Tritons at Sac State in Sacramento on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The San Clemente Tritons won the game 22-17.

Jeff Walters has come full circle. He’s home.

So much so that the newly named Del Oro High School football coach has been sacking out in his old bedroom in Newcastle, where his father, Kent, still lives, as he has reintroduced himself to the region. Walters, 31, coached at Liberty High in Brentwood for four years, producing two playoff teams for a school that has fielded just three postseason trips since 1914. Walters replaces Casey Taylor, who accepted the Capital Christian job.

Taylor brought Walters into the coaching fold for two seasons after Walters graduated from Del Oro in 2004.

With Liberty on a two-week break as a year-round school, Walters has remained in Placer County since his hiring was enthusiastically announced by the school.

Said Del Oro principal Dan Gayaldo in an email, “Del Oro football is in great hands!!!!”

Walters played quarterback for the Golden Eagles, and he dreamed of returning some day. Since the 1970s, Del Oro has been one of the top football programs in Northern California, a fact that doesn’t intimidate Walters. It inspires him.

“I’m just so excited,” said Walters, who will teach physical education at Del Oro in the fall. “I started coaching youth football when I was a freshman at Del Oro, and I liked it, but I never had any grandiose plans of becoming a teacher and football coach at Del Oro. But it’s a dream of dreams to come back.”

Walters met Golden Eagles players last Friday and met with parents Monday night. His father will be along for the Del Oro experience in the coming seasons, and his mother in spirit.

Jana Walters died of breast cancer when her son was 10 years old.

“I think of her and I think of the Tim McGraw song, ‘Live Like You Were Dying,’ ” Walters said of the song about friends and family coping with cancer. “At our old Placer Elementary school, we had a rundown playground, and my mom made it her vision to make a difference, and she took on the whole charge to make a mark on the community, to make it a better playground for the next kids.

“Del Oro has always been with me. The community spirit stuck with me. The Del Oro basketball team in 1996, when my mom died, signed a ball for me. I still have that. My connection and love for the school is strong, how this 1996 team totally embraced a 10-year-old kid in the youth program. That was some of the magic that stays with me.”

Walters and his wife, Lindsey, have two daughters and a baby due in September. The family is in the process of finding a home in Placer County. The oldest daughter, Jena, is 5 and named after a grandmother she never got to meet. Jayden is 3. Walters said he has a true coach’s wife, one who enjoys football.

“When we met, I told her, ‘I’m a football coach,’ and she said, ‘Oh, that’s cool!’ ” Walters said. “I said, ‘No, you don’t understand. Coaching is a grind.’ But she’s the rock. She played high school soccer. She’s aware of the rigors of sports. She’s excited, too.”

CIF hoops – Three area teams will play for CIF State basketball championships this weekend at Golden 1 Center.

McClatchy (31-4) will play Windward of Los Angeles (29-4) at 6 p.m. Friday. The Lions, who seek their second title in three seasons, beat Oak Ridge 46-34 in the CIF Northern California Regional Championship last Saturday in Santa Clara.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., West Campus (29-4) girls play Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga (27-3) for the D-IV championship.

In the prep season finale at 8 p.m., Woodcreek boys (31-2) will put their 19-game winning streak on the line against Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (30-2), ranked fourth in the nation.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

The Bee’s Softball rankings

Records through Sunday

1. Sheldon (1) 6-0

2. Del Campo (3) 8-4

3. River City (16) 6-1-1

4. Rocklin (2) 6-3-1

5. Casa Roble (5) 5-3

6. Christian Brothers (-) 9-2-1

7. Whitney (13) 6-2

8. Elk Grove (8) 6-2

9. Yuba City (15) 8-2-1

10. Granite Bay (-) 8-3

11. Ponderosa (11) 7-4

12. Del Oro (14) 5-3-1

13. Vista del Lago (4) 5-5

14. Oakmont (-) 7-4

15. Bella Vista (7) 4-4

16. Woodcreek (6) 5-6

17. St. Francis (9) 5-6

18. Pleasant Grove (-) 5-3

19, Cosumnes Oaks (17) 4-5

20. Oak Ridge (20) 4-4

– Mike McGough

The Bee’s baseball rankings

Records through Sunday

1. Davis (4) 5-1

2. Elk Grove (2) 2-4

3. Granite Bay (5) 3-0-1

4. Jesuit (3) 1-4

5. Oak Ridge (1) 0-3

6. Pleasant Grove (8) 4-1

7. Woodcreek (6) 2-1

8. Franklin (7) 2-3-1

9. Sheldon (9) 6-2

10. Capital Christian (10) 7-0

11. Del Oro (18) 2-2

12. Vista del Lago (12) 6-0

13. Christian Brothers (11) 5-0

14. Bella Vista (16) 4-1

15. River Valley (17) 5-3

16. Del Campo (13) 4-4

17. Lincoln (14) 4-4

18. Rocklin (-) 1-3

19. Rio Americano (20) 2-4

20. Yuba City (15) 1-4

– Mike McGough

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