North Santa Rosa

Old Rivalries Renewed

When Jay (2-0) travels to Central(3-0) on Monday night, there will be a familiar feel in the Central gymnasium. Obviously Jay and Central are rivals that play each other at least twice a year which are competitive games most seasons. However, what makes this matchup more exciting is the two coaches that will be roaming the sidelines. Familiar foes to say the least…Tony Mac and Lance Youngblood.

Last season, Central hosted Jay in a boys basketball game late in January. It was to be Tony Macdonald’s last regular season home game and it just so happened that it was rival Jay. A standing room only crowd crammed into the gym that night to watch Tony Mac coach his last game against the Royals, who are coached by Jacob Jordan. The gym was filled with former players of Tony Mac and their kids who have heard their fathers tell stories of the legendary coach who has amassed over 700 wins in his storied career. It was an epic night that seemed to put an end to Coach Mac’s career as a basketball coach. The Jaguars went on to pull away late in a competitive game against their rivals.

That would have been an ‘okay’ end to a phenomenal career, but fate had a different idea.  Coach Mac retired at the end of the year, but little did he know that he wasn’t done coaching basketball. Due to a lack of numbers, Central’s girls basketball coach transferred and left Central needing a coach. Enter Tony Macdonald, who has coached girls basketball coach before at Central. To him, basketball is basketball, no matter who the players are and he is excited to be doing what he loves most.

This would be a compelling aspect of this year’s rivalry game if this was the only plot twist to the story. But, this story is far from over.

A little farther north in Jay, a coaching change occurred in their girls’ basketball program as well. Paul Grover, who had assisted Rhett Rowell for two years from 2012-2014 had came back to lead the Lady Royals program this season, but before the season started, has had to step aside due to illness. He is attending all games that  he can, but in the meantime of Coach Grover fighting and battling cancer, Lance Youngblood has stepped in to fill the role of head coach in his absence. Youngblood, who is the longtime boys basketball coach at Jay High and is currently the athletic director, saw a need and filled it.

Youngblood, who is serving his first year as a girls basketball coach ever in his 32 years as a coach, demands and coaches the Lady Royals just as he did all of his boys teams. He has been able to see the girls basketball team through a difficult situation and bring the team together. All girls in the basketball program, and many faculty members and students at JHS wear a TEAM GROVER bracelet. Youngblood had the idea of doing a little something to support Grover in his battle and handed out the bracelets to unify the team in support of Coach Grover. It has  worked. The Lady Royals are not just playing for wins, but are playing for each other and for Coach Grover.

Both men are recognizable figures in both of their respected communities. Both men saw a need and answered the call. Neither Tony Mac nor Lance Youngblood imagined they would be doing this right now, but here they are, coaching against each other once again, albeit never the way they’ve done it in the past. The two go back over the last two decades as bitter rivals on the court  and close friends off it. Both ask much from their players and expect everything their players can give, whether those players are boys or girls.

Will these two be the coaches next year? Who knows? This could be it.  What we do know is these two will face off at least twice more for sure. One on Monday night at Central and one late in January when Central comes to Jay.

Our guess, is that it will be fun to watch and you won’t want to  miss it.

Jay @ Central

JV 530pm

V 645pm

Posted by on Nov 15 2015. Filed under Central, High School, Jay, Local, Sports, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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