Chuck Shidan, in the most difficult moment of his 27-year career as football coach at Sanger High School, met with his players Wednesday morning.
Only it was away from Tom Flores Stadium and with the Apaches not in their signature red uniforms.
There were 56 of them in the school weight room, and they heard at 8:30 a.m. what had been anticipated for months: “I’ve been coaching a long time,” Shidan said. “And no reflection on no one, but I feel it’s time to step aside and let someone else take over the program.”
Hours later, one of the most successful, popular and respected football coaches the Central Section has known was still struggling emotionally: “It’s been a tough day. It was difficult, more difficult than I expected. I’m not going to miss getting up at 5 in the morning and the 108-degree days in August when we’re putting on sun block while the majority of the faculty is still at the coast. But the relationships with the kids, that’s what I’m going to miss, that’s what’s going to be tough, that’s what it’s all about. And I think that’s what I’m all about.”
Shidan, 59, said he informed Principal Dan Chacon of his decision Saturday. He says he’ll continue to teach social studies and weight lifting for two more years before retiring from the classroom.
Shidan checks out with a 203-111 record, tied for seventh with Caruthers’ Tom Casanova (203-110-5, 1987-2014) among the winningest in history for coaches with records applied only to their Central Section tenures, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
He won eight league titles, four section championships and closed it all historically.
In 2016, the Apaches delivered a 117-year program-best 13-1 record and County/Metro Athletic Conference and section Division II crowns.
Shidan’s final game found defeat, but on a stage unprecedented in school annals as 7,500 fans stuffed the bleachers and every corner of Flores Stadium, where Sanger lost 49-36 to Serra-San Mateo on Dec. 10 for the CIF State North Division 2-A Regional Championship Bowl.
Under Shidan, a 1975 Sanger graduate, the Apaches’ program was defined not for major-college talent. In fact, he had only six advance directly to the Division I level on scholarship.
Rather, the Ground Chuck staple was run-oriented wing-T and options offenses, hammer-hitting defenses not dependent on large players and, above all, a non-negotiable work ethic driven by Sanger pride.
Corners were not cut.
“I really feel we put our heart and soul into things,” Shidan said, “and I think that’s why Sanger plays like we do. No matter if we were 5-5 or 13-0, it was the same product. Sanger football plays with an edge.”
He was immensely popular, far beyond the Sanger community. And peers are his witnesses.
“The man – the ambassador, the Bobby Bowden, the Joe Paterno, of our area,” Edison coach Matt Johnson has said.
And Bullard’s Donnie Arax: “No one – I mean, no one – plays tougher than Sanger.”
Shidan, raised on the raisin farm of his father, Harold, in neighboring Del Rey, played defense at Sanger under the late Buck Martin.He graduated and earned his teaching credential at San Francisco State.
Ultimately, he assisted Sanger’s varsity team under coaches Fred Ratzlaff, Roy Tanimoto and Tosh Nitta before taking over in 1990 as promoted by then-Principal Ron Schiller and Athletic Director Gary Gustin.
The same year, he married the former Patricia Flores, also a Sanger graduate.
“There’s no faking it with that guy,” his wife has said. “What you see is what you get. He’s just an honest man.”
Year by year with Shidan
- *1990: 2-8
- 1991: 8-2
- 1992: 7-3
- 1993: 3-7
- 1994: 3-7
- 1995: 5-5
- 1996: 7-4
- 1997: 8-4
- 1998: 11-2 (Central Section Division II title)
- 1999: 9-4
- 2000: 7-4
- 2001: 10-3 (section D-II title)
- 2002: 10-2 (West Yosemite League title)
- 2003: 11-2 (WYL and section D-II titles)
- 2004: 6-5 (County/Metro Athletic Conference co-title)
- 2005: 10-2
- 2006: 8-4 (CMAC title)
- 2007: 7-4
- 2008: 7-6
- 2009: 6-6
- 2010: 5-6
- 2011: 4-7
- 2012: 10-3 (CMAC co-title)
- 2013: 8-4
- 2014: 8-4 (CMAC co-title)
- 2015: 10-2 (CMAC title)
- 2016: 13-1 (CMAC and section D-II titles)
- Total: 203-111
* On-field record (does not include forfeit win vs. Hoover)