Kevin Breaker’s first season as Weston Ranch head football coach did not last long.
He was released by school administrators on Sept. 11, four days after a 49-10 Week 2 loss at Buhach Colony. Junior varsity coach Marcelo Zamarripa has since taken over the program.
Breaker was told the school wanted to go “a different direction.” Weston Ranch used an ineligible player for their Week 1 contest at Franklin. The Cougars’ 41-19 victory still stands on MaxPreps but will likely be forfeited. It’s their only win of the season so far.
Breaker said he was “blindsided” by the dismissal but took full responsibility for the ineligible player, a sophomore who played only three snaps.
“That’s something I missed and it’s all my fault. I’ll take that,” Breaker said. “They said we’re going to have to forfeit the game, and I’m fine with that. We’re not out here just to win football games, we’re out here to build young men and develop these guys.
“From April until the day I was let go I gave 150 percent. I did not ask for anything in return except for effort and drive from the young men.”
It was a short and tumultuous stint for Breaker. He said he had “little guidance” over the summer as Weston Ranch continued its search for a new athletic director. Jason Furtado, the previous AD, left for Escalon after the 2017-18 school year and was eventually replaced by Roland Davis before the start of the new term. Attempts to reach Davis were unsuccessful.
Breaker said he had issues with low player turnout, field use, transportation and funding. Weston Ranch’s first five games were on the road as upgrades to field and stadium facilities were planned, but they won’t start until after the football season concludes.
The Cougars will get to host their first game Friday against Kimball for homecoming.
“We’ve had so many obstacles,” Breaker said. “From Day 1 when Furtado was there, I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. But when he jumped ship I had no one to rely on.”
The coaches he started out the season with, including Weston Ranch JROTC instructor Sal Reyes, remain on board.
“I told them all of you should stay,” Breaker said. “We’re not there for ourselves, we’re there for the kids.”
Zamarripa, a 1995 Lodi High graduate and Martinez resident, is in his fifth year as special education teacher and football coach at Weston Ranch. He previously served as assistant coach for Lodi Unified schools Lodi, Tokay and Bear Creek.
“It has been a smooth transition,” Zamarripa said. “I already had a relationship with a lot of the kids on the varsity, and varsity coaches all came back. They told me it’s for the kids and I really appreciated that.
“Coach Reyes has helped out a great deal; we’re the only coaches on campus,” he added. “He has been very supportive. He and the rest of the staff have made my job a lot easier.”
Zamarripa has overhauled the Cougars’ offensive and defensive schemes since taking the reins. They’ve returned to the spread attack, which allowed senior returner Amier Bowen to break single-season passing records as a junior. Bowen is back behind center after he started at running back for two games, including a 207-yard, three-touchdown outburst against Franklin.
“We went back to the offense we ran last year because the kids were successful with it,” he said. “We’re still tweaking some things and relearning it, but with Amier back at quarterback and Atlantis Gholston (previously the QB) at receiver we’re more explosive. In a perfect world we’d have Amier at running back, but this offense was built for him.”
Zamarripa would not say if he plans to remain as varsity head coach beyond the interim.
“I’m just focused on this season right now, to tell you the truth,” Zamarripa said. “The kids are excited to finally be able to play at home. We’re having a good week of practice and they’re pumped to play for the home crowd.”
It’s the third straight homecoming game for Kimball (0-2 Valley Oak League, 2-4 overall), which lost its own homecoming to Sierra two weeks ago, 49-28. The Jaguars then lost at East Union 39-27 after scoring the game’s first two touchdowns.
The varsity contest will be preceded by the junior varsity game between rivals. Lathrop, now in the Western Athletic Conference, had an opening in its schedule this week, and Kimball does not field a JV squad.