It’s a question Justin Alumbaugh probably gets asked every day.
Can the De La Salle High School football team continue its championship caliber success now that Bob Ladouceur is no longer the head coach?
Alumbaugh, who has taken over leadership of the squad, answers with an emphatic “yes.”
“We have a great school with great kids and a lot of community support,” said Alumbaugh, a De La Salle alum who worked for more than a decade as an assistant coach under Ladouceur. “The entire coaching staff is back. There are a lot of good things in place.”
Ladouceur retired in early January after chalking up 399 career wins plus 29 North Coast Section titles and 17 state football titles.
Last year, the Concord high school rolled over opponents on its way to a 15-0 season and another state championship.
This season, the spotlight will be on Alumbaugh to keep the tradition going.
The quest begins on Friday evening at De La Salle when the Spartans take on Clayton Valley Charter High, a hard-hitting team that compiled a 12-2 record last season. The Eagles won the NCS Division II title before losing to Oakdale High, 27-24, in the Northern California playoffs.
Alumbaugh said Clayton Valley’s coach contacted them about playing the first game of the season against each other. The new Spartan coach was all for it, wanting his team to have to be prepared early against a tough opponent.
Alumbaugh said De La Salle has a lot of starters from last season back on offense. He said he is concerned about his defense, which he feels is not playing physical enough right now.
“If we don’t come out ready, Clayton Valley will put a hurt on us,” he said.
De La Salle’s 10-game schedule contains the usual top-ranked football programs from around Northern California. They’ll also take on Servite High from Southern California, a team that went 3-7 last season but has a lot of returning varsity players.
“We play really good teams up and down our schedule,” said Alumbaugh.
De La Salle has 31 returning seniors on its 64-player roster. Alumbaugh said he wants to focus on his athletes meeting the challenges facing them. He also wants them to be accountable academically as well as on the field and maintain good relationships with the community.
“De La Salle is more than just football,” he said.