All-Bee Athletes

Coach of the Year: Dave Steele

School: Kingsburg

He's qualified because: Lost not only 31 seniors from a 13-0, Central Section Division IV-winning team in 2009, but then also his starting quarterback for the season in the first half of game 1 this year.

Still went 12-1, won another section title after being bumped to D-III and finished second-ranked in the state by Cal-Hi Sports in that division behind Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (11-3).

A high school football coach with a master's in business, Kingsburg's Dave Steele had a feel as to what it would require to get the job done this season.

So in the summer he established the rallying cry, and it would appear in one bold word – BATTLE – inscribed across a Vikings ax on T-shirts distributed to the players.

He expected no gimmies a year after losing 31 seniors from a team that went 13-0 and won Kingsburg's first section football title (Division IV) in 32 years. Among the losses was one of the nation's top recruits, quarterback Tyler Bray, who started this fall for Tennessee.

"It wasn't going to be like last year, score 50 points a game and roll people," Steele says.

All things considered, it would be better – and what a battle indeed – for The Bee's Coach of the Year in football.

And it all began with the crisis on the coast.

Things suddenly became more complicated when starting quarterback Austin Bray – Tyler's younger brother – broke a wrist with 2 minutes remaining in the first half of an opening game at San Luis Obispo.

"I went on the field," Steele says, "saw his hand one way, his arm another way, and said on my headset to my assistants, ‘Get Garrett ready, Austin's done.'"

That would be one Garrett Steele, the coach's nephew and star running back.

Label it as you wish – fate, default or desperation – it would be a call not only in emergency but ultimately in permanency that would result in one of the most extraordinary stories in Central Section history, if not the state.

The Vikings would win that contest 19-15 on Garrett Steele's maddening, game-ending, 80-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Abernathy that's merely drawn about 5 million YouTube guests; close their season with a stunningly similar 81-yard scoring pass from Steele to Abernathy for a 26-21 win over previously unbeaten Porterville for the section D-III title; and in between win 10 of 11 games, including the Central Sequoia League championship.

And all that gives Uncle Dave the nod over Clovis West's Mike Parsons in a difficult call for The Bee's top coaching honor.

"It was just an amazing start and an amazing finish to an incredible year," Dave Steele says. "Garrett couldn't have done a better job, well beyond our expectations."

And what better could Dave Steele be doing at Kingsburg?

A Lindsay native who graduated from Kingsburg in 1989, he went 20-0 as the Vikings' junior varsity coach in 2006-07 before taking over the varsity and going 36-3 since.

That's 56-3. And it's no accident, says Garrett Steele: "He's working on football 365 days a year. He's already watching film for next year. Football is on his mind at all times. We just game plan really well, look for opponents' weakness and exploit them."

Uncle Dave, meanwhile, is enjoying a dream ride at his alma mater while extending a legacy started with the likes of Monte Clark and Jimmy and Rafer Johnson.

"I've never been one to toot my own horn," he says. "I've always felt the Lord has given me a lot of good coaches and players around me.

"I feel very proud, it's pretty neat. I've always wanted to represent Kingsburg High and the community well. It's been a fun ride and hopefully it will continue."

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