High School Football

Traditional powerhouse high school football program makes midseason coaching change

Former NFL player and Fresno State standout Atnaf Harris was removed as the Edison High football coach.

“As of right now,” Harris said Friday night, “I will not be coaching the football team.”

Harris declined to give a reason for his sudden departure. He initially said he was “going away for personal reasons.”

Pat Riddlesprigger, who oversees athletics for Fresno Unified, said Harris was let go because of “personal reasons.”

Harris was in the middle of his second season at Edison after previously coaching at Roosevelt for two seasons.

In Harris’ first season, Edison went 6-6 last season and was eliminated in the second round of the Central Section Division I playoffs.

This year, Edison (2-4) opened the season with four straight losses while playing against some of the toughest opponents in the Central Section.

But the Tigers rebounded to win two straight, including a 40-23 victory against Madera South on Thursday to begin County/Metro Athletic Conference play.

That turned out to be Harris’ last game at Edison.

It is unclear why Edison would make a coaching change with four regular-season games remaining.

Harris has shown he can turn around programs in a short amount of time.

At Roosevelt, the Rough Riders went 2-9 in his first season but then finished 8-4 in Harris’ second season.

Edison, for years, was one of the most dominant programs in the Central Section, winning league titles, contending for section championships and producing Division I players on a regular basis.

But the program has struggled in recent years to regain its power and last won a section title in 2014 when Edison finished 12-2 under former coach Matt Johnson.

Edison now is seeking its fourth head coach since 2016.

Riddlesprigger said Edison athletic director Hector Verduzco and football assistant McKinley Lee will finish this season as co-interim head coaches.

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Bryant-Jon Anteola is a multimedia reporter for The Fresno Bee, writing stories and producing videos about sports, news and random topics relatable to those in the Fresno area. He’s won a McClatchy President’s Award and received honorable mention by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He enjoys sports because of the competition, camaraderie and energy, and views sports as a microcosm of society.