It’s hard to find anything new about a school more than 100 years old, but the Tigers football team at San Jacinto High School pulled it off when they recently won the first-ever CIF Southern Section Division 6 and CIF State Division 3 won -AA Regional title. To celebrate this historic achievement, a parade and rally was held on January 20th to celebrate the players, coaches, staff and supporters throughout the season.
The parade started at the parking lot next to the soccer stadium and made its way through the city in a one-block square lined with crowds of fans and well-wishers. Two flatbed trucks carried the soccer players while they hoisted the trophies over their heads for the spectators. At the end of the 30-minute procession, guests gathered in the school’s quad area for grilled hot dogs and fries provided by the San Jacinto Lions Club. A ceremony followed where head football coach Aric Galliano was presented with gifts and announced that he had been named Riverside County Coach of the Year.
Galliano, humbled by the honor, thanked assistant coaches John Norman Jr., Jeremiah Budnovich, Ryan Cogdill, Sean Wilson, Kevin Guilford, Rich Lunsford, Lowell Thomas and Anthony Fernandez. Aside from the big wins, he said the highlight was “the presence of my wife and children, my family and my coaches’ families in a record-breaking season.”
His wife, Amanda Galliano, began working at San Jacinto High School in 2011 and became its athletic director six years ago. Her role spans all sports on campus where she oversees athlete clearance to include physical packages, academic and CIF credentials, coordinating training schedules, overseeing events, scheduling games, buses and officials and more. She is also the first point of contact for athletes if there are any questions or concerns. She and Aric have four children, a 10-year-old son and a pair of 7-year-old triplets.
The players were praised for their great work on and off the pitch. These included team members Dereun Dortch and Dillon Gresham, who were named Division 6 Offense MVPs, and Andre Taylor, who was named D6 Defense MVP.
SJUSD Superintendent David Pyle said: “We are beyond proud. Not only hearing the stories about the end results, but also hearing about the guys being gentlemen on the field, shaking hands with other players and helping them up when they’re down, shows that we’re good kids here in San Jacinto raise.”
Dondi Silvas, President of the Soboba Foundation, SJHS Class of 1988, said she was very honored to have been on the trip with the team, attended their games, and traveled to Sacramento with her mother, Yvonne Silvas, to attend cheer them on.
Dondi’s late father, Charles “B-Bop” Silvas Sr., coached soccer and other sports at San Jacinto High School for 17 years. She told the team that she knows he is very proud of her and that she really appreciates how they treated themselves. “I’ve heard a lot of colleges are looking at you and that’s the next step, so enjoy this time and we wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors,” she said.
San Jacinto City Manager Robert Johnson said, “That’s what community building is all about. What we’re trying to do is connect the community to City Hall, but what you’ve done is connect yourself to the whole community. It’s phenomenal what you’ve accomplished this year. We are so proud. This is something that helps us spread the word about San Jacinto. We know we have good schools, we know we have a good college and we know we’re getting new retailers, but now we also have league football.
Johnson explained that the celebratory event was also a team effort. He said he was approached by City Councilman Phil Ayala to do something special like a parade so the Tigers could be recognized by the entire community for such an outstanding season. Along with City Council members Brian Hawkins and Phil Ayala, Johnson presented Coach Galliano with a crystal soccer trophy in memory of the team.
Craig Shultz congratulated the team on behalf of the Valley-Wide Recreation & Park District, known for creating a community of athletes in the San Jacinto Valley. “As proud as we are of your win, we are even more proud to hear about the class and goodwill shown by the players because that’s what Valley-Wide is all about – good sportsmanship.”
Jerry Peebles, president of the San Jacinto Education Foundation, told the players, “The high school has played 888 games and this is the best season in San Jacinto history; I congratulate you on that.”
Assistant Principal Bill Powell was football coach of the Tigers for 20 years, including 17 years as head coach. He said it was very special to see the team go this far. He was able to attend their last game and said it was a great experience.
“This is a special group of kids who have shown their skills in close matches on a number of occasions,” he said. “A very mature group that has shown great balance. They were great representatives of our school.”
Powell said Coach Galliano and his staff should be commended for their tireless work with an outstanding group of young men this season. He noted that Galliano was also named Inland Empire Sports Network Coach of the Year, Inland Sports Coach of the Year, CIF Division 6 Coach of the Year, and Mountain Pass Coach of the Year.
“He did a great job pressing all the right buttons to allow the team to focus on the task at hand. He works extremely hard and really cares about these kids,” Powell said. “This was a very selfless group of kids who cared about each other and not their own achievements. I was as grateful for the opportunity to be with them as I was.”
Coach Galliano has been a teacher and coach at San Jacinto High for 10 years. He trained under Powell for two years before taking over in 2015. He has been the head coach for eight seasons. In previous years under his leadership, the team reached the finals in 2018 and the semifinals in 2019.
“This season all the kids have believed in our vision and expectations that we expressed at the start of summer football,” he said. “We were stronger offensively; We ranked the No. 38 state nationally with 701 total points scored.”
At the rally, he said he was honored to be there “to carry on Coach Powell’s legacy and to have the honor of taking over for him and leading this program and to be able to do what we could do this year. I couldn’t have done it without him and his support, as well as our administration and the stability of our coaching staff.”
Kristi Coulter, Principal of San Jacinto High School, who moderated the rally, addressed the 60+ players in her closing remarks. “When you become champions, you become leaders on campus and people watch you. I want to commend you for being the gentlemen you are,” she said.
After the team’s championship win at their home stadium on December 2, they traveled to Sacramento to face Grant High School on their turf on December 10. It was a team effort to help the team make the successful journey north and coach Galliano said the district did a phenomenal job coordinating everything.
Amanda Galliano said: “The best part of the season professionally has been the overall growth of the team and the coaches. I think what we sometimes forget is that it’s not always easy to win games, especially by a big margin. In fact, it’s often harder to stay focused and keep the work ethic and intensity at the level needed to continue preparing for the tougher post-season games.”
This year’s Tigers played 16 football games, one fewer than an NFL team would play in a regular season. Amanda said, “I have a unique perspective to see how much our student-athletes, their families, our coaching staff and their families have sacrificed to do what they have done this year. Additionally, the support from the San Jacinto Unified School District, the Soboba Foundation, alumni and community has been second to none, and I am very proud to have been a part of that experience as their current Athletic Director.”
CIF made contributions, as did the Soboba Foundation and Hemet Sportsman’s Club. Families helped provide snacks and drinks for the players at the final.
“When we first learned the team was going stateside, I reached out to other Foundation members to see what we could do to help. I am pleased that we were able to contribute to this,” said Dondi Silvas.
Pyle said the district could use some discretionary funds to help cover the cost of the trip. “The Soboba Foundation’s generous donation has made a huge difference. Without Soboba’s support, we wouldn’t have been able to do things at the same level,” he said.
The San Jacinto Tigers Varsity Football fall roster includes 28 seniors in alphabetical order: Marty Acebedo, Ahlijah Afemata, Luis Aguilar, Victor Alvarez, Elijah Arrellano, Ervin Barnes, Jayden Brown, Jeremiah Brown, Malachi Brown, Denton Capell, Dejon Carter, Jayden Cruz , Josue Cubarrubias, Erik Cuevas, Dereun Dortch, PJ Enosa, David Enriquez, Ryan Esqueda-Long, James Felio, Noah Frazier, Jason Geffrard, Erik Gonzalez, Sean Gordon, Tashawn Greene, Dillon Gresham, Hayden Grigsby, Ryan Guilford, Jonathon Hollins , Vincent Holmes, Bryan Jackson, Angel Jones, Deyton Kersey, Kiu (Q) Kupu, Solomon Kupu, Daylen Love, Noe Mares, Ralphy Martinez, Kartell Matuu-Malepai, London Miguel, David Myers, Jayden Nelson, Nehemiah Norwood, Troy Oloa , Pule Onosa, Ramiro Orozco, Joshua Orta, Roger Ortero, Dylan Prieto, Jomini Ransom, Andrew Rocha, Austin Rosales, Martin Sanchez, Malakhy Siitia, Ryan Sims, Aiden Stinnett, Christopher Tautolo, Andre Taylor, Diego Teo, Julian Thomas, James tolliv he, Tevita Tukunga, Josiah Vaifanua, James Walker, Hajani Washington, Sebastion Wood, Enoch Woods, Andrew Zepeda and Nathan Zunner.
For more information, visit www.nfhsnetwork.com/schools/san-jacinto-high-school-san-jacinto-ca/football or #fearthepaw.