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Wednesday, Feb 20 2013 11:04 PM

Centennial welcomes Sneed back

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Centennial's new football coach Kevin Sneed along with his 5-year-old grandson Haidyn Atchley visit with school staff following a press conference.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

For Kevin Sneed, family comes in many forms, and all of them pointed towards Centennial.

Sneed, officially announced Wednesday as the Golden Hawks' football coach, said returning to Centennial was like coming back home.

"It's wonderful to be back," said Sneed, who will leave his post as Ridgeview's athletic director and come to Centennial on March 4. "It hasn't changed much for me; there are a lot of memories in this school. ... It means so much to me. We started the school, myself, Brooke and Randy Roberts, Jan Stuebbe, we were just like a family. It was an amazing place to work."

The other family that convinced Sneed to take the Centennial job hits even closer to home. Before Sneed's brother, Jesse, died of cancer in December, he gave Kevin some words of wisdom.

"It was one of the last things he said to me while he was coherent," Kevin Sneed said. "He said, 'You're not an athletic director. You're a football coach.'"

Turns out Kevin Sneed, 58, felt the same way. He replaced a legend in Dallas Grider as West High's head coach from 1984-92 and won 75 games, three league championships and reached the Central Section championship game in 1988.

"I can go on and on about the quality he has as a football coach and the quality he has as a man," Centennial principal Steve Wedel said. "We're extremely excited to have Kevin Sneed back home."

From West, Sneed came to Centennial to be the athletic director but returned to coaching, first as Stuebbe's assistant and then has the head coach from 1998-2000. After that, he left to coach with Grider at Bakersfield College. When Grider left BC, Sneed figured he was done coaching, too.

But then Dennis Manning called, asking if Sneed would be on his staff at Foothill. Sneed accepted and then followed Manning to Ridgeview in 2010, where he's been since.

"I don't think the itch to coach ever leaves you," Sneed said. "When I became the athletic director at Ridgeview, I told (principal) Steve Holmes that the only job I'd ever leave for is this one at Centennial.

"... The athletic director job is a huge job, an important job ... but in many ways it's not rewarding like coaching. There's nothing like working with kids."

Sneed will have his work cut out for him. Centennial, just four years removed from a runner-up finish in the Division I section finals, finished 2-8 last year and loses quarterback Reagan Enger and wide receiver Andrew Daughtery, its two best offensive weapons.

But Sneed, in 12 years as a head coach, never has had a losing season.

"It's a tough league with great coaches," Sneed said. "But when we went to Foothill and Ridgeview, they had been 2-8 or 0-10 the year before. Things can be rebuilt. I think we'll battle anybody we play."

North hires assistant Brown

When North High football coach Cy Silver decided earlier this month he'd step down to focus on his duties as a teacher and baseball coach, one of the first people he told was his defensive coordinator, Chad Brown.

Brown, as it turns out, will be the man to replace Silver for the Stars. North will officially announce the move at a news conference Friday, but athletic director Brian Huens confirmed Wednesday that Brown was the choice.

Brown, 30, is a Taft High grad who played running back at Cal Lutheran. He has been an assistant at Taft and North for the past eight years, seven for the Stars. He becomes Bakersfield's youngest head coach.

"Since I started being involved in football, I started to love coaching, and becoming a head coach has been kind of an ultimate goal," Brown said. "I really thought I was getting to this point, and it is a dream come true. It's an awesome thing to be in charge of a program and affect kids' lives."

North was 0-10 last year in Silver's second year.

"We had a lot of juniors who will be coming back," Brown said. "They had a rough time last year, but that will make them better. The kids at North are good kids, and I've gotten attached to them. I'm going to work my butt off for them so we get better."

Brown said he'll finalize a staff and a team philosophy in the next month or so, but he said he won't drastically change what the Stars did under Silver.

"We're going to talk about it," Brown said. "I'm not opposed to changing some things. I'm a pro-style kind of a guy; I know that's a catch-all, but we want to match our offense and defense to our personnel. There will be some similarities to what we did under coach Silver, but of course we'll throw in our own wrinkles, too."

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