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By Alex Horvath / The Californian
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Take your mind off of the football field for a minute for some truly bad news: Centennial football coach Kevin Sneed was diagnosed with throat cancer last month and will start radiation treatment Monday.
Sneed, 59, said he’ll coach the Golden Hawks on Friday at Tulare Union and will continue to coach as long as he can this fall.
“I’m still able to talk and coach and teach, and I’m going to keep doing it,” Sneed said. “If at some point I can’t do it and the radiation gets to me, we’ve made some plans.”
Mike Gregg, Centennial’s defensive coordinator and a former Foothill head coach, has stepped in for the few practices Sneed has had to miss, and he would become the interim coach in Sneed’s absence. Offensive line coach Dave Rice and running backs coach Brent Durkin would share offensive play-calling duties.
“I plan on being at games no matter what,” Sneed said. “If it gets to me and I can’t be on the sideline or can’t talk, I’ll be in the (press) box.”
Sneed said he felt a lump in his neck in August and when it grew, he became concerned, especially because his family has an extensive history with cancer: His parents and two brothers all died from the disease, and two other siblings survived bouts with it.
Doctors gave Sneed a positive prognosis involving eight weeks of radiation and then chemotheraphy, he said.
“Surgery is out of the question, because they don’t know the exact boundaries of it,” Sneed said. “They think the radiation and chemo will take care of the problem. The kind of cancer I’ve had, they say they’ve had really good results with it, especially when they catch it early like this.”
Sneed is in the first year of his second stint with the Golden Hawks. He coached at West from 1984-1992 and at Centennial between 1998-2000. He was Ridgeview’s athletic director when Centennial hired him in February.
This year, the Golden Hawks are 2-2 and have shown a lot of improvement since a season-opening loss to Memorial. They played section power Clovis close in a loss three weeks ago and then beat Santa Barbara 38-7 last week. In between, during the Golden Hawks’ bye, Sneed was diagnosed.
“We’re not giving up on this season by any means,” he said. “We’re playing better, and we have an opportunity to make the playoffs.”
Sneed, who has never had a losing season in 12 years as a head coach, said his players have been supportive and in good spirits, and he’s remained positive, too.
“I’ve gotten a lot of support,” he said. “The players have rallied around me, some great people have given me calls, old friends. There have been a lot of prayer chains. It’s nice to know people care so much.”