Concord High recognized 2 coaches in naming baseball field, gym after them

Concord High recognized 2 coaches in naming baseball field, gym after them

Concord High recognized 2 coaches in naming baseball field, gym after themSecond in a series about athletic facilities at eight local high schools. Read related stories:

Concord High was the last of six comprehensive high schools to open in Contra Costa’s largest city when the school began classes in the fall of 1966. That concluded a hectic eight-year period starting in 1958 with Clayton Valley, Ygnacio Valley, De La Salle and Carondelet along with Concord all opening to handle the fast-growing Concord population that previously had been served only by Mt Diablo High.

Minuteman varsity football and basketball coach Don Lockyer is still featured on the Concord Blvd. campus under the scoreboard in Don Lockyer Gymnasium. And not too far away in the back corner of the school grounds is the Jack Dress Memorial Ball Park, honoring a man who was not quite able to fully realize his dream to coach the CHS varsity baseball team.

Don Lockyer Gymnasium

Although Lockyer gained the most notoriety for his football coaching, he guided an undefeated Diablo Valley Athletic League championship Minuteman basketball team in the 1972-73 season after he earlier led the school to its historic unbeaten 1969 DVAL football title. Both championships came before there were North Coast Section playoffs in those sports.

Lockyer had the distinction of coaching the school to its first title in each sport. In fact, the basketball championship came in the first year he coached the sport at Concord. The team won the Mid Valley Classic in December and in the final tourney game handed defending league champ Clayton Valley the first of four defeats that season between the rivals, the exact opposite of what had happened the previous campaign.

After going 14-0 in league play Concord was shocked in the opener to the DVAL playoffs, losing to Mt. Diablo before rebounding over perennial powers Clayton Valley in the semi-finals and Pittsburg in the championship game, an overtime thriller.

That put the Minutemen into the Top of the Bay post-season tournament (pre-NCS playoffs which began two years later). The local team won the consolation title there over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.

Senior Curt Minges led the DVAL in scoring and classmate Jeff Sprague was second in rebounding. Both earned first-team all-league honors while guard Dave Ruybalid was second team for the Minutemen.

Unbeaten Minuteman football

The 9-0 Minuteman football team in 1969 featured senior captains, runningback/defensive back Andy Maez and guard/middle linebacker Rich Prigge, who were both voted to the post-season Contra Costa All-Star team along with center John Slobodnick. Prigge was first-team all-Northern California while Maez became the school’s first 1000-yard rusher.

The league championship was essentially decided in the fourth game of the season on a windy afternoon at Ygnacio Valley High when Concord outlasted the Warriors 28-22 in one of the all-time classic DVAL games. Ygnacio was led that year by quarterback Mike Sullivan, Dan Fitzgerald and future Baltimore Oriole Kiko Garcia.

However, that wasn’t the only close call in league play as Concord won other DVAL games by two, four and six points while also posting shutouts in three of their final four games. Against coach Lockyer’s former team, Pleasant Hill High, the Minutemen scored in the final seconds for a 6-0 victory. Even with those four narrow wins, the 1969 title-winning team outscored its nine opponents by 170 points.

In its first three years Green and Gold varsity football had an outstanding 21-4-2 record.

Lockyer was an Idaho native and World War II veteran. He was on the Pleasant Hill High football coaching staff before coming to Concord High, where he stayed until his 1985 retirement. Lockyer’s son Tom also coached at CHS.

Don Lockyer died in 2011 at age 83. Last fall the 1969 team celebrated the 50th anniversary of its magical season at a Minuteman football game.

Jack Dress Memorial Ball Park

Jack Dress coached at Concord High for nearly a decade assisting varsity coach and close friend Gary Luoma. Dress was in charge of the junior varsity. When Luoma stepped down after the 1992 season the school appointed Dress to take over the varsity for the following spring.

Dress had battled Hodgkin’s disease 23 years earlier during the time his wife Yvonne was expecting their fourth child Tony. Overcoming a dire diagnosis by doctors, he recovered and spent 10 years coaching basketball at St. Agnes School, 11 years coaching in Concord American Little League and three years as a hitting instructor at Grand Slam Batting Cages in Concord in addition to his stint at Concord High.

Luoma said that Dress broke one of the cardinal rules of coaching in that he had all his players—young and old—call him “Jack” and not “coach.” Luoma also credited Dress with helping the Minuteman varsity to three league titles and nine playoff appearances during their years together.

The summer he was appointed varsity coach, sarcoma cancer was discovered, a result of the heavy radiation Dress had received 23 years earlier. Although school officials tried to talk him out of coaching so he could concentrate on recovering, Dress was bound and determined to fill his new position.

Dress was an all-star catcher on the 1951 Mississippi state championship team during his four-year stint in the Air Force. He then moved to Concord and played two years at Diablo Valley College. In 1959 he signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs, playing some minor league ball in Iowa.

On Jan. 15, 1993 at 64 years of age he died following an eight-month cancer battle, just weeks shy of realizing his dream to coach the Minutemen varsity baseball team. Besides his widow and son Tony, he left behind three daughters. Tony Dress would follow in his father’s footsteps, coaching baseball at Acalanes High, Los Medanos College and San Francisco State.

Jack Dress Memorial Ball Park underwent a big change in 2017-18 when the school football, softball and baseball fields were redone, funded through the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Measure C bond program.

The baseball field is now all artificial turf (one of very few in the Bay Area) except for the pitching mound and bullpens while the softball field has a dirt infield and artificial turf outfield.

Adjacent to them is the football/soccer field and track that are also all-weather and with lights installed about 10 years earlier. Measure C also replaced the original bleachers in Lockyer Gymnasium.

North Coast Section titles come to Concord High

The Concord High baseball, softball and football fields have all been the home of North Coast Section championship teams.

Baseball was the first of those when the 1979 Minutemen won North Coast with a 9-6 win over Piner in the 3A final. The Sonoma County titlists had stunned the East Bay’s No 1 team and top seed El Cerrito in the semi-finals. The journey to the title was no cakewalk as Concord defeated Irvington 8-5 in the first round, required two late rallies for a dramatic 7-6 victory over Monte Vista in the quarterfinals and then won a 10-9 battle with Albany in the semi-finals.

Concord was coached by Dave Maggi, who was a Hall of Fame football and baseball player at Mt. Diablo High. In fact, CHS opened at the start of Maggi’s junior year and many of his Red Devil teammates went to the new school.

Maggi felt his 1978 DVAL champion Minutemen were every bit as good as the team that won Section the following year. Injuries and running into a tough pitcher in the opening game of the playoffs ended that season. Concord lost 7-5 to Granada of Livermore who had lefthander Mark Davis pitch the win. Eleven years later, Davis won the Cy Young Award in the National League for the San Diego Padres.

The baseball diamond also featured future major league pitcher Tom Candiotti, who was on the 1973 and ’74 Concord High teams. He then played four years at Saint Mary’s College and eventually developed a knuckleball that was his ticket to the big leagues.

During his 16 seasons in the majors from 1983-1999, Candiotti (nicknamed “No-No” during his days in the Concord American Little League for his numerous no-hit games) pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time of his retirement with 151 victories, Candiotti ranked in the top 100 all-time in major-league history in starts and strikeouts. In 2001, he was named one of the 100 Greatest Indians in Cleveland history

Softball hangs 4 banners

Megan Coddington had a dream season in 2010 when she became head coach of the Minuteman softball team. The girls went undefeated in DVAL that season to win the title by five games and swept through four NCS games while allowing only one run to grab the school’s first softball Section championship.

Even with that great defensive record both their quarterfinal and semi-final games were narrow 1-0 wins. The finale in Novato was a 7-0 shutout of Rancho Cotate.

Since then, Coddington’s teams earned three more NCS Division II championship banners in 2012, 2013 and 2017. Five of the players from that 2017 title-winning team were seniors in the class of 2020 and were looking to repeat that feat before the spring season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Brian Hamilton built up the Concord High football program from a one-win season in 2004 to the exciting 2010 team that won a remarkable NCS Division II championship game 40-37 over previously undefeated Ranch Cotate at the Oakland Alameda McAfee Coliseum. Quarterback Ricky Lloyd supplied much of the heroics in the finale as he led all California preps in completions and passing yards that season while the team scored 100 touchdowns.

Following that championship, the Minutemen were also in NCS title games in 2011 and 2014. Following the 2014 season Hamilton took a job on the Cal Berkeley coaching staff in 2015, ending an 11-year run at the school.

Concord, featuring future record-breaking Cal quarterback Dave Barr, also was in the NCS 2A championship game in 1989, losing 16-12 to Marin Catholic. Barr played for the St. Louis Rams in 1995 and for the Scottish Claymores in the World League of American Football.

The Minutemen of coach Alfonso Muñoz were edged by Ygnacio Valley for the 2013 DVAL boys soccer championship but Concord then rattled off four straight shutout victories to captured the NCS Division II championship. Their last three wins were all by identical 1-0 scores, including the final against Campolindo, which had defeated Ygnacio in the semi-finals. The next year the Minutemen made it to the NCS semi-finals.

The school’s only Section championships not claimed by baseball, softball, football or soccer teams were all won by coach Bruce Wallace’s swimming and diving teams. The boys won back-to-back NCS titles in 1977 and ’78 and the girls took the 1985 title. The North Coast Section swimming and diving meet is considered one the best high school competitions in the country.