Dave Filan’s good cheer and easy smile often belied his profound anguish.
He hurt for his football players who dearly wanted to achieve more. He was pained by their injuries and the difficult lessons of humility amid crushing defeat. The fifth-year Valley High School coach concluded Thursday it was time to step away from the grind of reviving a program so he could spend more time with his family.
Filan is the area’s first head-coaching casualty this season. He’s emotionally exhausted after navigating the steep climb to maintain program respectability, but he’s proud of his often overmatched Vikings.
“Coaching is a ton of work, and I’ve got a young family at home that needs me,” said Filan, a Valley English teacher, his voice heavy. “I need to get away from trying to help all of these great kids at school to get home and help my own two kids. It just finally came to a head. I’m worn down.
“I told my players it’s a personal thing, that I have life issues that I need to take care of, but I’m pulling for them. I’m always telling them don’t quit, and so it was hard to say I’m stepping down.”
Assistant Justin Wade takes over as interim coach. He led the Vikings on Friday against Kennedy, a team that can speak of the misery of defeat but has turned the corner under veteran coach Matt Costa. Kennedy beat Valley 40-0 to drop the Vikings to 0-5.
Filan slowly built Valley’s program back into something respectable, raising participation numbers and imploring effort, accountability, teamwork and class. The reward came last season when Valley reached the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
I’m always telling them don’t quit, and so it was hard to say I’m stepping down.
Former Valley coach Dave Filan
Filan didn’t bring it up as an issue, but some Valley parents pressured the school administration to remove him. Some let The Sacramento Bee know about their aim during telephone calls, emails and face-to-face encounters.
Remarkable Robards – Ryan Robards turned in the most remarkable one-man show this reporter has seen in 27 years at The Bee and 31 years in this business, given the opponent and magnitude of his versatile effort.
Yeah, considering the opponent, it’s absolutely the best in Elk Grove history.
Thundering Herd coach Chris Nixon on Ryan Robards’ performance against Grant
The Elk Grove senior set the tone immediately Friday, buckling the formidable Grant Pacers with a 70-yard interception return only moments into the game, and scoring on a fumble return and a 75-yard punt return. He also rushed for 176 yards and three scores.
In a word: Wow.
In 1998, Elk Grove’s Lance Briggs rushed for 320 yards and six touchdowns and dominated on defense in the Thundering Herd’s 77-22 rout of Atwater for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title. But this was even more magical.
“Yeah, considering the opponent, it’s absolutely the best in Elk Grove history,” Thundering Herd coach Chris Nixon said. “It’s right up there with Lance Briggs, Ryan Dinwiddie and all the others. The guy does it on offense, defense and special teams. He just did an amazing job.”
No college program has inquired about the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Robards, though Pacific is quite interested in him in baseball. The football interest will change. A scholar, Robards makes plays, period. And he showed he was the fastest, most elusive player on the field, zipping past scores of quick Pacers in every facet of the game.
Dominating with class – De La Salle of Concord, the nationally renowned football power, is 10-0 against Sacramento-area teams and 6-0 since 2012, including wins over Folsom, Del Oro and Jesuit. On Friday, the Spartans rolled past No. 5 Granite Bay 37-0.
What lingers is De La Salle’s classiness. No coach or player ever has approached this reporter to malign the Spartans.
“To hear that, it’s very gratifying,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said. “We won’t accept showboating, taunting. It’s not who we are. We had a player a couple of years ago, and he showboated on an ESPN game. My phone was inundated with texts from guys I coached, played with, friends. They all hoped we would take care of it. We took care of it.
“We’re not about bravado. We appreciate and respect all of our opponents, and it’s nice to hear they feel the same about us.”