Every year for the last four years on the week of the Super Bowl I’ve conducted a poll of area football coaches on who would win the game. And every year I’ve received the same response from Roddy Layton.
“I’m only concerned with Diamond Ranch football,” he would respond. I already knew the answer, especially after the first couple of years, but still I had to ask.
“Diamond Ranch,” Layton said again this last February without hesitation.
Layton was a guy so committed to his team that he couldn’t even give me a “Seahawks” or a “Packers.” It was always Diamond Ranch, even in February when the season opener was still seven months away.
Layton was also a guy with a wealth of information and knowledge. Layton played at Ganesha before moving on to USC and had a firm grasp of the local scene. Layton was the kind of coach that you could talk football with all day. I would ask him one question and would receive a 10 minute answer. Talking to Layton at a practice or after a game wasn’t as much as an interview as it was an education for me.
He would talk about a player’s size, ability and potential. He would point out his strengths and weaknesses. He would break down plays, schemes and formations in complete detail. I could learn more about football by talking to Layton for 30 minutes than I could by reading a 500 page book on the subject.
Win or lose, Layton never declined to talk to me after a game.
So I was sorry to hear over the weekend that he had stepped down as the head coach at Diamond Ranch. He confirmed it to me a via a text message Saturday night. He informed the players Friday afternoon of his decision and advised some of the parents by e mail.
I don’t know all of the details. I might find out more this week. I’ve heard a few things but anything at this point would be pure speculation. At any rate I’ll miss talking football with him after a Friday night battle and wish him nothing but the best. Hope to see him on somebody’s sideline again soon.
The Hall of Fame Game last Friday night at West Covina High School didn’t have me on the edge of my seat or biting my nails. There were no heart stopping, chest pounding moments. There was nothing so dramatic that I forgot to breathe. That being said it’s still a great game.
Guys like Frankie Palmer, Nathan Coto and Joseph Mayorga get a chance to play one more time after memorable prep careers. And for some it is the last time they will ever play football. Sure it should be moved up to January and it probably will be. Sure it would be nice to see more players participate. But it’s a tradition that should never end and with proper support can only get better.
Besides what other game could you see a player with a camera on his helmet like Bonita’s Jake Payton had? “It’s only for pregame,” Payton told me before the kickoff. We’ll that was good to know.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40.