HANGING UP THE WHISTLE: After seven years – one of which included a CIF title – Lancers’ football head coach steps down, surprising players, boosters

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A screenshot of the Friday, Feb. 11,, statement from football head coach Peter Karavedas that was posted on the Sunny Hills football Instagram home page at 2:42 p.m. — nearly an hour after Karavedas told his players he was stepping down during a lunch-time meeting at the campus weight room.

Rachel Yun

In an unexpected announcement during a lunch-time meeting Friday, Feb.11 – before the three-day holiday weekend – football head coach Peter Karavedas told his players that he will no longer guide the team next season.

Karavedas, who guided the Lancers to a CIF-SS Division 8 title in 2019, did not reply Friday after school to The Accolade’s request for an interview.

A statement from Karavedas was posted on the Sunny Hills football program’s Instagram account near the end of sixth period at 2:42 p.m., nearly an hour after he had spoken to his players. 

“Today, I stepped down as head coach … to pursue educational opportunities outside of football,” wrote Karavedas, who is also a social science teacher on campus. “Coaching and teaching full time has given me and my family so much these last 15 years and getting the opportunity to lead Lancer football for the last seven years has been a tremendous honor.

“But, at this point in my career, it is simply time to close this chapter.”

The last paragraph of the coach’s statement indicated that he wanted to pursue a path toward becoming an administrator.

Athletic director Paul Jones could not be reached for comment, and no information was available as to who will serve as interim head coach during the off season.

Karavedas had just celebrated with his team, assistant coaches, players’ parents and boosters on Thursday, Feb. 10, at the Lancers’ postponed banquet at the Coyote Hills Golf Course in Fullerton. The Accolade’s online co-managing editor, senior Grace Johnson, who had also done some broadcast work for the Lancers this season and was invited to attend the program, said the head coach gave no hint during the evening that he was going to hang up his whistle the next day.

The annual end-of-the-year gathering was originally scheduled for January at the beginning of the spring semester but was pushed back to this month because of the dramatic increase in positive COVID-19 cases. School district officials had sent an email before the start of the semester that non-essential activities, including banquets, could not be held in January.

Among those at the banquet and Friday’s meeting in the school’s weight room was tight end junior Tony Salas.

“The team as a whole was instilled with these three values — integrity, team before self, and excellence in all we do,” said Salas, who has remained with the football program since his freshman year. “But besides those core values, [Karavedas] taught us to be leaders and work through adversity.

“I hope the program learns that despite him leaving, we can still continue to win games and be a successful program.”

Football booster treasurer Michell Soaper took it harder than Salas.

“I was shocked and sad that my younger son, who is a sophomore, will not get to play for him,” said Soaper, who was among the first few booster parents to learn of Karavedas’ resignation before the Friday announcement to the players. “He has taught these boys to be leaders – to have confidence in themselves – which will carry on in their adult lives, and they will be great men, husbands and fathers because of it. ”

Karavedas’ departure follows that of former principal Allen Whitten, who received a promotion last December as director of student support services for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District after serving Sunny Hills for the past seven years — the same time frame that Karavedas had taken the reins of the football team for.

Besides finding a replacement for a new principal and a head football coach, school officials will also need to fill the spot soon to be vacated by co-Associated Student Body [ASB] adviser Mike Paris, who has announced to his ASB students that he plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Despite the uncertainty as to who will take over the leadership of the school and these other programs, some students remain optimistic.

“I’m very sad to see all of these teachers go as I’ve known Mr. Paris as a teacher and a mentor for the past three years, and I’m sure many other students regard [Karavedas] as a mentor as well,” said junior ASB president Jacky Woo, who found out about the news through Instagram reposts of Karavedas’ statement. “I know that the football team will come back stronger even without coach Karavedas, and I’m excited for the new football season and the potential it holds.”

This story is still developing; be sure to check back for another online article to be posted soon containing more information about Karavedas’ decision to step down as head coach and more reaction quotes from football players, students, school officials and parents.