Sanger High’s administration, moving swiftly after Chuck Shidan’s resignation, named longtime Apaches assistant Jorge Pena as football coach Friday.
The promotion of Pena – a former Sanger quarterback and 19-year varsity assistant, including the past 17 as offensive coordinator – came only two days following Shidan’s announcement that he was stepping down after 27 seasons.
“We felt very comfortable and confident somebody on Chuck’s staff, particularly Jorge, would be a suitable replacement, should they want to take on that challenge,” said school principal Dan Chacon.
That desire was a given for Pena, whose first name is pronounced “George.”
“I thought about it for sure, to be honest,” he said.
But the caveat: replacing an iconic community figure in Shidan, who went 203-111 with four Central Section championships and eight league titles.
And that career closed in historic fashion, delivering a school all-time best 13-1 record, County/Metro Athletic Conference and section Division II titles and a CIF State bowl berth.
That resulted in a 49-36 State North Division 2-A Regional loss to Serra-San Mateo, but it drew an unprecedented, overflow crowd of 7,500 at Tom Flores Stadium.
He set the standard for how we play. Hopefully, some of his magic has rubbed off, and we’ll go from here.
Jorge Pena on taking over for legendary football coach Chuck Shidan at Sanger
This is what Pena has to follow.
“Incredibly big shoes to fill,” he said. “I know firsthand because I’ve seen it firsthand and lived it. I owe a lot to Chuck. He set the bar high, and I had a front-row seat.
“Chuck has always given me a lot of autonomy and responsibility. We always worked well together. I was very comfortable with Chuck as a head coach and my role. If he had coached two more years, I would have been offensive coordinator for two more years and been just as happy. He set the standard for how we play. Hopefully, some of his magic has rubbed off, and we’ll go from here.”
Pena has Shidan’s unconditional endorsement.
4 section titles for Sanger with Jorge Pena as an assistant on the staff of coach Chuck Shidan, including the 2016 season
“I think it’s a great choice,” Shidan said. “He’s been like my co-head coach for years and has pretty much run the show. Jorge is polished, he’s been through the ups and downs and seen it all.
“We have such continuity, such a strong staff. My personal fear was someone else would come in and break up the staff, so this is great for Sanger football.”
The “ups” far exceeded the “downs” in the Shidan/Pena management package.
Pena, a 1988 Apaches quarterback and ’89 graduate, assisted all of Shidan’s section champions in 1998, 2001, ’03 and this season.
And the offense was run-oriented all the way, generally with wing-T and triple option.
Pena won’t be tempted to disrupt the flow: “Sanger football is Sanger football – no need to mess anything up here. I know the formula and recipe; I know how it works. I’m happy and excited to do it.
“I guess it’s my turn.”