Tom Casanova has been named one of the CIF State Office’s 12 Model Coach Award winners, a parting tribute to a man who spent 28 seasons as Caruthers’ head football coach before stepping down at the end of 2014.
The award recognizes coaches who have served as positive role models in their schools and communities, and who have exhibited the traits apparent in the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor.
“I’m humbled by being nominated,” Casanova said. “There are so many great coaches. To get that (award) is really awesome. It’s an honor to represent our section and Caruthers.”
Casanova, a Florida native who ended up in California while serving in the air force, spent 30 years as a coach at Caruthers. In addition to football, Casanova coached basketball, tennis, wrestling, golf and baseball and also had a six-year stint as athletic director.
Caruthers’ football team went 203-110-5 with 10 league and three section championships under Casanova from 1987 to 2014, according to historian Bob Barnett. He finished with the seventh most wins in section history.
Casanova will be replaced by 13-year assistant and former Blue Raider Brandon Ward, who played in college at Reedley College and Western Kentucky.
“All these kids you coach are kind of like your sons,” Casanova said. “So it’s like your son is taking over. He went off and played football and got all those experiences, and then he wanted to come back and coach. He stuck with me all those years and did a good job. It makes me proud to turn it over to him.”
Casanova credited his longevity in coaching to the support of his family, including wife Lucy, sons Tommy and Michael (an assistant on Casanova’s staff the past six seasons), and daughter Nicole.
“My wife never complained about my coaching,” Casanova said. “A lot of coaches don’t have that, so I’ve been blessed.”
And Casanova said his success stemmed from the players, assistants, administrators and community members he’s worked with over the years, giving special praise to 22-year right-hand man Arnold Vera.
“Caruthers is a small little community, but a special place to work as a coach,” Casanova said. “I really enjoyed my last 30 years.”