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Tuesday, May 03, 2005 | Too often in high school sports we measure a coach by wins or losses. Or by the number of athletes who earn college scholarships or advance to play in the professional ranks.
The pressure from parents to meet those demands has driven many good high school coaches out of the business, but under either grading system Rancho Bernardo High’s Sam Blalock ranks as one of San Diego’s most successful baseball coaches. His program long has been regarded as a state and national power.
But another way to grade a teacher and coach is by the number of former athletes who see the value of a career in teaching and coaching. If Blalock wasn’t so successful as a mentor, his Broncos this year might still be ranked No. 1 in California.
Rancho Bernardo was ranked No. 1 in the state until a 12-5 loss to Poway on April 12 knocked the Broncos from their perch. Poway is coached by one of Blalock’s protégés, Bob Parry.
“If you watch one of our practices, you will see a lot of things in common with his practices,” Parry said. “I do a lot of the same things as Sam as far as running practice and talking to the kids.”
Parry played for Blalock at Mt. Carmel as a senior in 1982 when the Sundevils won the CIF San Diego Section 3A title. He later played at Palomar College and San Diego State, earning All-American honors, and spent five years in the Oakland A’s organization before returning home. With Blalock having moved to Rancho Bernardo when the school opened in 1991, Parry was an assistant on Blalock’s staff from 1992-94 before he was hired as Poway’s head coach in 1995.
“Sam was ahead of his time when I played for him in the way he ran practice and taught hitting,” Parry said. “When I came back to coach with him at Rancho Bernardo, he was an even better coach.”
But despite that loss to Poway, Rancho Bernardo remained No. 1 in the San Diego Section for two more weeks until Poway proved it was no fluke. The Titans tagged on an 8-5 win over the Broncos on April 23. The second win allowed Poway to supplant Rancho Bernardo as No. 1 in San Diego and as the San Diego’s highest ranked team in the state at No. 4.
In Parry’s first 10 seasons at Poway, his teams had only beaten Blalock’s Broncos twice. This year’s team has doubled his career win total.
“Rancho Bernardo is a very good team, but they don’t have the first-round draft picks they’ve had in the past,” Parry said. “We have more talent this year than in the past, and these kids expect to win when they step on the field.”
But watching Rancho Bernardo dominate the Palomar League has never prevented Parry from enjoying the profession he learned from Blalock. In 2001, his Titans advanced to the CIF Division I finals only to lose to – you guessed it – Rancho Bernardo.
Poway’s first win over Rancho Bernardo began a winning streak that has climbed to nine following the Titans’ double-header sweep of La Costa Canyon on Saturday. Poway, now 22-3, possesses a four-game lead over La Costa Canyon and Rancho Bernardo in the Palomar standings with six league games to play.
Tom Shanahan has been writing about San Diego athletes at the professional, collegiate and high school levels for 27 years. He is the Media Coordinator for the San Diego Hall of Champions (www.sdhoc.com). His features on high school athletes and coaches can be seen on the cable television show “School and Sports Stars” on the San Diego County Office of Education’s ITV Channel.