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Blabe named new football coach at Kofa
John Blabe didn't fancy retirement much.
After taking last year off, the long-time Antelope coach was announced as the new head coach for Kofa on Monday morning.
“It stunk,” Blabe said of his one-year retirement. “I took about three months and I said this isn't for me. I'm refereeing football, basketball, baseball – not very well – and then you can only play so much golf.”
Blabe, who coached 29 seasons at Antelope, hopes to be the man who can turn around the Kings – who have fallen on hard times lately. Kofa hasn't made the playoffs since 2008, when they finished the regular season 5-5, and are a combined 6-25 in the past three seasons – with five of the wins coming against San Luis. The 61-year-old Blabe takes over for Kevin Moore, who went 18-44 in his tenure with the Kings.
“There's no magic wand that I'm going to wave and change the program overnight,” Blabe said. “I think with some of the things we're going to bring in – and it's really simple – what will be ours is our four building blocks: discipline, teamwork, fundamentals and fun.”
Kings' athletic director Marci Rodriguez said that a committee narrowed the list down to four serious candidates and they unanimously decided to go outside of Kofa for the hire.
“There's always that discussion,” Rodriguez said. “Just in this case, with the experience that John has – and not only the experience, but we had several conversations after the interview – but he's willing to come in and figure out how our kids work.”
Blabe reached the playoffs 17 times with the Rams and nine straight seasons from 1999-2008.
While he's now coaching for the Division I Kings instead of the Division V Rams, Blabe doesn't expect much of a change in how he goes about his business.
“Football's football, whether you're playing at the 2A level or college or professional,” said Blabe, who admits the Kofa position was the first job interview he's ever had. “It's just a game. It doesn't change. The only thing that changes are the Jimmy and the Joes, not the Xs and the Os.”
Blabe said he'll spend the next two weeks putting together a coaching staff – hoping to nab some of his old coaching buddies – before preparing to return the Kings' program to what it used to be back in the day.
“I go back way before the administration, the athletic director, the principal. I go back when Kofa High School was playing some pretty darn good football. There's a lot of people in town that remember some glory days at Kofa High School.
“Yeah, they might be in a little bit of a trough the last few years, but all programs go through that. Now we got to push them out of the trough and put them back where they used to be.
“I drove 80 miles a day for 29 years (to Wellton) and I drove by the Kofa field and it had Kings Pride, Kings Pride, Kings Pride and I drove by that so many years. … When this job opened up I told them I hope they have a lot of pride at Kofa High School because I've been seeing that sign forever.”
Having lived in Yuma while he worked at Antelope, Blabe admitted that leaving the Rams wasn't due to being worn out of coaching but that the program was a better job for a younger man – eventually Dan Gardner – and the 40-minute drive for 29 years wore him out.
But he calls his new job at Kofa his “last hurrah.” While it may be his final coaching destination, that doesn't mean he isn't ready to leave any time soon.
“This isn't a one-year job,” he said. “I didn't take this job as a Caribbean cruise to tour Mazatlan and come back and say ‘Okay Marci, go find somebody else.' This is a four- or five-year commitment.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.