Don Sanders

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Heritage High School head varsity football coach Don Sanders has announced his resignation.

Heritage High School has issued the following press release to announce the resignation of head varsity football coach Don Sanders. The following is the announcement in its entirety

For just the third time in its school history, Heritage High School will be seeking a new head football coach, after Don Sanders announced his resignation to returning team members on Friday afternoon following a seven-year stint at the helm of the program.

Sanders took over for Jeff Haagenson prior to the 2013 season, and led the Patriots to three different appearances in the North Coast Section playoffs, with two of those appearances leading to a couple of the most memorable moments in program history.

Prior to his time as a head coach, Sanders had served on the Heritage staff since the school had opened, when he came over from Liberty.

“Coach Sanders has been a positive, consistent fixture in the Heritage football program since the school’s opening, coaching at multiple levels,” said Heritage principal Carrie Wells. “His compassion for his athletes in his tenure as the head varsity coach over the past seven years has been evident in the structure of the entire program, allowing for athletes to succeed both on the field and in the classroom.”

Sanders’ tenure as head coach will be remembered best on the field for playoff victories in both 2016 and 2017.

The 2016 Division 1 quarterfinal win over San Leandro will always rank as one of the top moments in the school’s athletic history.

In that game, the Patriots trailed 32-0 in the second quarter before rallying for a stunning 35-32 victory and a berth against eventual section champion Monte Vista in the semifinals.

The following year, Heritage faced off against Monte Vista again in the playoffs, this time throttling the Mustangs for a 44-17 victory and a second straight trip to the quarterfinals.

This season, despite a lack of wins on the field, Heritage made its mark with a series of close games.

Along the way, the Patriots defeated eventual East Bay Athletic League-Valley champion Amador Valley, who is in the Division 1 playoff field, and lost by single digits to California, Antioch and Freedom. Heritage also thrived in the classroom, earning NCS Distinguished Scholastic Team status with a team GPA of 3.13.

“We would like to thank Coach Sanders for his commitment to our football program, not just during the season, but also with all the hours he has put into the lives of these student-athletes, being there in the weight room throughout the off-season and spending his summers transforming them into varsity football players,” said Heritage athletic director Nate Smith. “We are grateful for his years of leadership and positive values he exemplifies as a role model to our students.”

Sanders will continue to teach science classes on the Heritage campus, and will spend more time with his children and their endeavors.

“Coaching football has always been about the kids for me. My high school coaches had a huge impact on my life and I have worked to have made a positive impact on the kids that I have coached,” Sanders said. “I am proud of the teams I have led and the hard work they committed to. At this time I need to focus on my own family and am resigning as head coach of the Heritage football team.”

Heritage will open its search for a new coach at a date still to be determined.