Clovis News: Sports

Madera High football coach resigns

Randy Blankenship, a 202-game winner in a 25-year career at six schools, but a coach who couldn't rediscover the wing-T magic at Madera High he once established at Clovis West, has resigned as leader of Coyotes football.

"I didn't live up to my own expectations," he said Tuesday, "so I thought it was time to step aside and let someone else do this."

Blankenship, 27-38 in six seasons at Madera, including 7-23 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, didn't confirm or deny whether he was forced out by the school's administration.

But he's stepping down three months after telling The Bee: "I'm not going to [quit]. I'd still like to coach for another 10 to 15 years. And, while the record doesn't show it, I think I'm a better coach than I was 10 years ago -- no doubt about it."

Tuesday, he didn't dismiss the possibility of coaching elsewhere: "I still have a passion for coaching. In what capacity? I'm not sure. I've had a very rewarding and successful career, and I really don't want it to end now, but the options are limited."

They are, he said, because he wants to remain close to his only grandchild -- almost 2-year-old Cash, son of Blankenship's daughter, Senta, who lives in Fowler.

Another of his three children, son Beau, lives in Fresno. And a son, Clint, lives in Houston.

"I think I still have something to offer as a coach," said Blankenship, 56, "and I hope to have that opportunity. But it's got to be somewhere close I can drive to."

Madera athletic director Shane Riddle said Blankenship didn't resign under pressure: "It was his call; nothing personal there. So now we need to regroup, move in a different direction and try to find another fit for our program."

The Blankenship fit appeared to be right when he followed a 9-4 record in 2005, his second season at Madera, with a 6-0 start in '06 that had the Coyotes top-ranked in the section and No. 17 in the state.

Then came a wicked turnaround that wouldn't be reversed.

Madera, before a home crowd of about 8,000, lost 31-14 to Clovis and finished the season 7-4.

Worse, the Coyotes went 8-22 in Blankenship's final three seasons, including a 1-14 mark in the TRAC. They've lost 13 straight in the section's premier league.

"The losses absolutely killed me," he said.

The dagger came with the arrival of Madera South in 2006. That reduced a Madera enrollment that had soared to a section-high 4,400 by nearly 2,000 students.

"I thought we had things rolling," Blankenship said, "then the split came."

It's not as if all the talent has shifted across town to Madera South. The Stallions are 3-28 in their first three seasons.

But Clovis East coach Tim Murphy said the reduction in Madera impact players was glaring following the split: "There was definitely a talent drop-off. Randy had something going; he was building something. Then he had to start over and fight an uphill battle again.

"He definitely represented hard work, organization and, what really impressed me, the need to develop a system on the high school level. And he did well with the wing-T."

It was with that run-oriented offense that Blankenship forged the most dominant era in section history, going 90-14, with four section titles, at Clovis West from 1991-98.

From there, he jumped to San Diego (Fallbrook), Texas (Granbury) and Mission Viejo (Capistrano Valley) before returning to the TRAC, only at Madera.

The California Interscholastic Federation administration of the section, recognizing the Coyotes' pattern of failure in the TRAC, already has determined that they will move into the less-powerful County/Metro Athletic Conference next school year.

While the CMAC delivered double section football champions in Bullard (Division I) and Edison (D-II) last Friday, it is expected to be a league in which Madera can better compete across the board.

"I truly think us going down a league will help us tremendously," Riddle said. "We'll find some success, which will be great for our kids and community."