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LJHS, Bishop’s make football coaching changes

Dave Ponsford said he felt “it was just time,” and Mike David said he wanted to be closer to his family in Tennessee. Both leave behind tremendously successful high school football programs in La Jolla.

Ponsford announced recently that he is retiring from coaching after 37 years in the business, the last 28 at La Jolla High School. Rey Hernandez, a longtime assistant coach at La Jolla, will take his place.

David revealed that he is leaving The Bishop’s School after a three-year run in which he won a CIF San Diego Section Division IV championship, and has taken the head coach’s job at St. Benedict’s in Cordova, Tenn.

He will hand over the reigns to Joel Allen, an assistant coach for the last five years.

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Continuity was key

“It’s time,” Ponsford said. “I’m kind of looking forward to slowing down a bit. If I really, really miss it, I think I’d go back and coach the J.V. offensive line or something. I feel good that we’ve got somebody to take over the program and keep the continuity - that was important to me.”

Ponsford, 57, was the head coach at La Jolla for the last 11 years. He said he will continue to teach in the social studies department at the school and will attend football games in the fall, but will make every effort not to cast too long a shadow.

Hernandez, the Vikings new head coach, said, “It’ll be a new experience for me, but I’ve been real fortunate to work with some great guys in Dave and a few other head coaches over the years.”

“I’m very fond of our program and the kids at La Jolla,” he continued. “I’ve been there close to 20 years now. If I was ever going to do more for them, it was going to be as a head coach.”

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David’s decision

David said his decision to leave Bishop’s was a difficult one, but ultimately the right one, as he wanted to be nearer his family in Tennessee.

His time at Bishop’s was brief, but he had a tremendous impact on the program. The Knights went 7-5 in his first season, then went a perfect 12-0 and won the section championship the following year. Last year, the Knights went 7-7 and returned to the section title game.

“It’s very hard leaving Bishop’s,” David said. “The players were great, my assistants were great, and it was an amazing place to teach. It was a very difficult decision.”

Assistant Allen, who spent four of the last five years as an assistant at Christian High School, but was on David’s staff during the 2007 championship season.

“It was a great decision to leave the program to Joel,” David said. “He’s not only an outstanding coach, he’s an outstanding person.”

Allen, 24, is eager to get started in his first head coaching position.

“The key to our success will be to keep it going,” Allen said. “I plan to take what Mike has instituted as far as the outlook and the goals of the program and build on that.”