With the announcement that Bruce Rollinson will be retiring as football coach at Santa Ana Mater Dei High at the conclusion of the 2022 season, the focus soon will be on finding a replacement.
Rollinson has been coaching for 34 years. He's a Mater Dei graduate. The school doesn’t like bringing in outsiders, but its new president, Michael Brennan, came from Anaheim Servite High and won’t be limited to only looking for coaches with Mater Dei ties.
Here are some names that will likely come up in the process of finding a successor:
Lenny Vandermade: The former All-American Mater Dei lineman and USC graduate has coached at the college level. He was recently an offensive quality control analyst for the Trojans and still has close ties to Mater Dei and Rollinson. He’d be a popular choice.
Taylor Kelly: He is Mater Dei’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has been a key figure in the development of junior quarterback Elijah Brown. Kelly is only 31, which would be a generational change in the program if he were hired.
Statement from Mater Dei president Michael Brennan on Mater Dei and Servite both having coach openings: “It is coincidence that both schools will be searching for a new football coach. MDHS will begin our search for a new football coach at the beginning of 2023.
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) November 15, 2022
Matt Logan: Prying him away from Corona Centennial has been on the wish list for years of some Mater Dei supporters, especially when Rollinson went 17 consecutive seasons without winning a title. Now it’s unlikely to happen because Logan is heavily invested in the public schools retirement program and would have to take a financial hit to leave Centennial.
Jason Negro: Yes, he’s the head coach at rival Bellflower St. John Bosco, but his name has been on the rumor list. It’s doubtful he’d leave his alma mater for Mater Dei.
Troy Thomas: He has twice worked with Brennan at Servite, so if he wanted to put his stamp on the Monarchs’ program, Thomas would be the ideal transitional candidate. It was announced on Monday that he is leaving Servite.
Chris Ward: The well-liked, well-respected former Mater Dei and UCLA player was the offensive line coach for Mater Dei during its unbeaten 2017 season. Now he’s the line coach at Orange Lutheran. He has no head coaching experience, but if the Indianapolis Colts can hire Jeff Saturday (no coaching experience), Ward certainly qualifies as a candidate.
Raul Lara: The former Long Beach Poly coach was hired by Brennan at St. Anthony. He knows how to handle big-time talent.
Eric Rescigno. A former Mater Dei freshman head coach, he's an offensive assistant with a good reputation but never has been a varsity head coach.
Jason Miller, Bellflower: He took over a 2-7 team and has Bellflower in the Division 11 semifinals in his first season. He previously had success at Compton Dominguez and Gunn High in Northern California and would be the first Black head coach in the Trinity League.
Bubba Gonzalez. The former Mater Dei line coach has been head coach at Orange Coast College. The only concern is junior college coaches rarely leave if they are full time because the job is so good.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.