Joe Davidson

Remembering Jug Covich, whose keen hires kick-started the Placer football dynasty in the 1970s

Jug Covich, the gregarious coach, athletic director, principal and proponent of the idea of kids staying involved at Placer, died Sunday at 94 after a long illness.
Jug Covich, the gregarious coach, athletic director, principal and proponent of the idea of kids staying involved at Placer, died Sunday at 94 after a long illness. Placer High School Hall of Fame

The Placer Hillmen will have a vital person from their past in mind when they play at Crenshaw in the CIF State Division IV-AA championship game Saturday in Los Angeles.

Jug Covich, the gregarious coach, athletic director, principal and proponent of the idea of kids staying involved at Placer, died Sunday at 94 after a long illness.

A World War II veteran, Covich started teaching at Placer in 1950. He was the school’s athletic director from 1963-68 and principal from 1971-88. He was the Sac-Joaquin Section president from 1982-86 and was the Sierra Foothill League commissioner from 1997-2015.

Covich in the early 1970s hired coaches Tom Johnson and Bill Miller out of Southern California to head the football program, and they led the Hillmen with a motto of “hit and have fun.” From 1972-82, Placer went 93-15-1, including 71-5 from 1975-81 with five section titles, including state No. 1 finishes in Division II or III in 1977 and ’80.

Miller is the grandfather of Placer coach Joey Montoya, who is in his 11th year.

The only thing more dear to Covich than the Hillmen student athletes was family, including his wife of nearly 70 years, Barbara. They lived in the same house in Auburn since 1952.

Covich was also handy with a gun, as in a starter’s pistol for section track meets.

“He used to shoot that gun off at the end of the quarters of football games, while standing at the top of the stairs at the Placer press box,” recalled longtime Auburn Journal and KAHI Radio reporter Pete Dufour. “Remember those days when they actually had a gun to end the quarter, half and the game? Jug was a very colorful figure in Placer lore. I can’t think of anyone who has touched more lives than Jug.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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