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Area coaches laud Crusader’s hire
By Brian Reed-Baiotto
While local prep sports fans are focused and excited about the start of the football season today, the Valley Christian athletics department made arguably the off-season acquisition of 2016-17. Former St. Anthony and Long Beach Jordan baseball coach Roger Penticoff was hired just over three weeks ago during the quiet of summer, but his impact will reverberate for some time to come.
Penticoff, 65, won four league titles in seven years at St. Anthony, but the instant turnaround he made at perennial punching-bag Jordan is what has earned him universal praise from area powers.
Just 12 games into his first year (2014) with the Panthers, Penticoff had already led Jordan to more wins than the entire season before. More importantly, though, they beat local giant Lakewood for the first time in nearly a decade and challenged Long Beach Wilson, Long Beach Poly and Millikan throughout the Moore League marathon.
“No coach did more with less than Roger did over the past three seasons,” former Poly coach Toby Hess said. “They were forced to practice off campus at a park and had to use trees as bases. What he did with those kids and under those circumstances is unreal. They couldn’t have paid me enough to coach there and yet he made the best of it.”
Valley Christian is getting a gruff, details and discipline-orientated man, who isn’t the ‘give every kid an award for participating’ type of guy. Penticoff will use structure, fundamentals and high expectations to give the Crusaders an instant change maker.
“We were very impressed with our meeting with Roger, and his character and hard-nosed nature will help him thrive here at Valley Christian,” athletic director Zac Chan said. “We’re excited to have him here.”
Penticoff’s blueprint for success will rely heavily on aggressive base running, swinging at first-pitch fast balls and putting pressure on the defense. While looking forward, Penticoff also took a minute to reminisce about the past three years that made him a respected leader.
“It was time for me to move on. I appreciate Jordan for allowing me to coach at the Division 1 level and it was a great experience,” Penticoff said. “Taking them to the playoffs in my first year there is something I am very proud of. I learned patience and intend to bring my competitive work ethic and pride to VCHS. I’m very excited about getting back into the Christian environment.”
For those at Valley Christian who don’t know much about the incoming coach, take it from CIF championship coaches Spud O’Neil (Lakewood) and Andy Hall (Wilson) that bright days lie ahead.
“Although his teams had less talent than some of us, his teams were well coached and competitive,” O’Neil, the Lakewood legend who has won more than 800 games and two CIF titles with the Lancers said. “He will have more talent at Valley Christian and be successful.”
Said Hall, who has won a CIF and national championship at Wilson, “Roger brought an instant discipline, fundamentals and competitive nature we hadn’t seen in a long time at Jordan. To come into this (Moore) league and battle with everyone was remarkable and a testament to his abilities to get the best out of his kids.”
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