This doesn't mean you can say Horizon had the best small school team in state history. Just six years ago, Crossroads of Santa Monica was No. 6 in a very strong year and had a point guard named Baron Davis. And then in the early 1970s, there were all those dominant teams at Verbum Dei of Los Angeles, which were No. 1 overall in the state for four straight years (1971-74).
But this year's Horizon team wasn't supposed to be this good. With 2002 Div. IV State Player of the Year Nate Carter graduated, Horizon didn't exactly have to rebuild but did have to retool. Head coach Zack Jones worked incoming transfer Alan Wiggins from Poway into the mix, worked with returning player Jared Dudley to the point that Dudley became one the top two or three players in San Diego and worked tirelessly on defensive game plans that shut down just about every opponent the Panthers faced.
For all that, work, Jones has been chosen as the 2003 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year. His candidacy for the top overall honor was so strong this year that it was decided to bypass the fact that Jones was the Div. IV honoree for last year and also has been chosen for Div. V in the past.
"When I came up from the JV to the varsity, he told me of the role I could have on this team and that he knew I could become a leader," Dudley said. "He's been like a father figure to all of us. He gets us ready to play every game."
Jones turned in perhaps his top coaching effort of the season in the Div. VI Southern Regional final. Horizon faced a Garces of Bakersfield team that had run up 118 points in its previous game. But against Jones' team, Garces wound up on the short end of a 59-56 score. In the state final, the Panthers took no chances and breezed to a 77-62 win over Hercules.
"We wanted to make history this year," Jones said. "This year, we had some different players come into the program and they blended in much better than the players we had last year."
Jones basically started the Horizon program from scratch nine years ago. He was an assistant coach at San Diego City College at the time as well and wanted to switch more to a program where he could instill many of the philosophies of the Athletes in Action teams he played on. Those traveling teams combined messages of faith in God right along with fast-break layups and no-look passes. Since then, Horizon has won eight San Diego Section titles with 2001 being the only season in which the Panthers were denied.
"I never thought about state championships at all when we first started," he said. "The only way we ever got to those kinds of lofty goals was just to win one game at a time."
Jones grew up in Washington, D.C., and came to California initially to play collegiately in San Diego. He played for two years at San Diego State and was then talented enough to play for two years in the NBA, first for one year with the New Jersey Nets and then for another year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He may be the first State Coach of the Year on the all-time list who has NBA experience, but that isn't known for certain. After playing in Europe, Jones started his coaching career as an assistant at San Diego City College.
In addition to the overall statewide coaching honor, Jones also logically has to be the state coach of the year for the CIF enrollment division his team competed in. The list of the other four coaches of the year by division follows as well as our updated all-time state coach of the year list. Note: One of the criteria for our state coach of the year honors is to spread them around as much as possible.
STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR
(By CIF enrollment divisions)
Div. I -- Ray Johnson (El Camino, Oceanside)
Wildcats earned a national FAB 50 ranking for their tough battles against L.A. Fairfax and Johnson this year won his 400th career game.
Div. II -- Paul Hayes (Woodcreek, Roseville)
When Hayes took over this program five years ago, it had started 0-47 for the first two years the school was open. This year, the Timberwolves played in the Div. II state final.
Div. III -- Drew Hibbs (Foothill, Sacramento)
Coached the Mustangs to a Div. III state title in 1994, then left for the JC ranks and then came back to Foothill where state glory was repeated this year.
Div. IV -- Zack Jones (Horizon, San Diego)
Also named overall State Coach of the Year.
Div. V -- Chris Bishof (Eastside Prep, Palo Alto)
Guided team to NorCal Div. V title game for two straight seasons.
Note: State championship coaches Ed Azzam (Westchester), Gary McKnight (Mater Dei) and Michael Lynch (Price) have all been chosen previously.
OF THE YEAR
(All-time list; compiled by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis based on research prior to 1980)
2003 — Zack Jones, San Diego Horizon (32-1)
2002 — Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester (32-2)
2001 — Vance Walberg, Fresno Clovis West (31-3)
2000 — Frank Allocco, Concord De La Salle (31-1)
1999 — Clinton Williams, Oakland Fremont (28-4)
1998 — Jerry DeBusk, Rancho S.M. Santa Margarita (32-2)
1997 — Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph (31-4)
1996 — Russell Otis, Compton Dominguez (34-2)
1995 — Steve Filios, Mountain View St. Francis (27-8)
1994 — Hank Meyer, Carmichael Jesuit (31-7)
1993 — John Barrette, Palo Alto (31-0)
1992 — Tom Orlich, South Tahoe (30-1)
1991 — Tom McCluskey, Tustin (30-4)
1990 — Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara (28-0)
1989 — Willie West, L.A. Crenshaw (25-2)
1988 — Reggie Morris, L.A. Manual Arts (27-3)
1987 — Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-1)
1986 — Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd (31-5)
1985 — Stephen Keith, Glendale (28-0)
1984 — Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly (31-2)
1983 — Jorge Calienes, Rosemead Bosco Tech (25-5)
1982 — Dick Acres, Carson (26-2)
1981 — Maury Halleck, Santa Barbara San Marcos (25-1)
1980 — Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (24-2)
1979 — Dave Shigematsu, Oakland Castlemont (23-3)
1978 — Ben Tapscott, Oakland McClymonds (22-3)
1977 — George Terzian, Pasadena (29-3)
1976 — Bill Armstrong, Palm Springs (22-4)
1975 — John Mihaljevich, Palos Verdes (24-6)
1974 — Dan Risley, Elk Grove (30-0)
1973 — Tom Conway, Stockton Stagg (28-0)
1972 — Tom Cleary, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (27-2)
1971 — George McQuarn, L.A. Verbum Dei (29-2)
1970 — Spike Hensley, Berkeley (32-0)
1969 — Gordon Nash, La Mesa Helix (29-2)
1968 — Ralph Krafve, East Bakersfield (29-0)
1967 — Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd (37-2)
1966 — Len Craven, Whittier Sierra (28-1)
1965 — Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (21-2)
1964 — Bill Mulligan, Long Beach Poly (32-1)
1963 — Bill Armstrong, Compton (27-4)
1962 — Dick Edwards, Sacramento El Camino (23-1)
1961 — Paul Harless, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1960 — Bill Thayer, L.A. Fremont (17-1)
1959 — Gene Haas, Glendale (32-1)
1958 — Don McDonald, Easton Washington 17-0)
1957 — Jim Witt, S.F. Poly (28-1)
1956 — Rene Herrerias, S.F. Ignatius (27-5)
1955 — Claude Miller, Alhambra (27-2)
1954 — Martin Martinelli, L.A. Mt. Carmel (34-1)
1953 — Bill Barnett, L.A. Loyola (34-2)
1952 — George Powles, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1951 — Ken Fagans, Compton (29-3)
1950 — George Phelps, El Monte (31-4)
1949 — Bob Tuttle, Ventura (30-0)
1948 — Will Ryan, S.F. Lincoln (29-2)
1947 — Phil Woolpert, S.F. St. Ignatius
1946 — Pete Lenz, Stockton (20-2)
1945 — Rick Wilson, San Diego Hoover (16-1)
1944 — Stan Schnepple, Alameda (15-1)
1943 — Alex Shwarz, S.F. St. Ignatius (14-0)
1942 — Hod Ray, Palo Alto (18-0)
1941 — Porter Thompson, Glendale Hoover (21-1)
1940 — Lloyd Leith, S.F. Washington (16-4)
1939 — Charlie Church, Long Beach Poly (21-3)
1938 — Don Douglas, Whittier (24-3)
1937 — Benny Neff, S.F. Lowell (17-3)
1936 — Dewey Morrow, San Diego (14-1)
1935 — Clarence Schutte, Santa Barbara (14-1)
1934 — Earl Crabbe, Auburn Placer (18-2)
1933 — Howard Butterfield, Glendale Hoover (12-2)
1932 — Karl Kaiser, Ontario Chaffey (12-1)
1931 — Don Douglas, Whittier (25-1)
1930 — Hod Ray, Palo Alto (13-0)
1929 — Tommy De Nike, S.F. Galileo (17-1)
1928 — Pete Lenz, Stockton (14-0)
1927 — Ernest Palfrey, Dinuba (13-2)
1926 — Frank Needles, S.F. St. Ignatius 145s (15-0)
1925 — Binks Rawlings, Porterville (9-1)
1924 — Jimmy Hole, Berkeley (18-4)
1923 — Jim Blewett, Fresno (14-1)
1922 — Claude Downing, Alhambra (19-1)
1921 — Ed Kienholz, Long Beach Poly (16-0)
1920 — Al Dowden, Orange (16-2)