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Madera High Coach Questions Parents Loyality - What a Boner of a Move? Print E-mail
News - Opinion
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:03

AN EXCLUSIVE BIG VALLEY NEWS EDITORIAL

MADERA
- What does Madera High School varsity football coach Bonner Cunnings do when he hears bad news? The same thing the administration of the school has done for the last five years....shoot the messenger.

Last year Big Valley News wrote a series of stories on former head coach Scott McKinney's final year with the football program. The year started with a  scrimmage which degenerated into a riot involving recent Madera High players and possibly current players. Questions stand to this day about the participants because the administration refused to share the game video of the melee claiming it was classified as 'student records'.

You might be thinking things must have gotten better from there. Certainly staff and administration would not let the athletic program get any more out-of-hand than a post-game riot, right? Unfortunately I must remind you that not only did things not improve, the year actually ended with the complete failure to discipline a football player caught frequently accessing the attendance records of fellow team members in order to delete their school absences (a felony).

After last year's events, I decided to hire someone else to write the stories about the Madera High Football program this year. I wanted to be fair to Cunnings for his first year and wasn't sure I could be even just a little impartial. Bill Mask, a parent of one of Cunnings players, decided he would take on the task of covering Madera High Football for BVN. It was a perfect fit since Mr. Mask also volunteered for the team to keep statistics during the games.

About half way through the season Mr. Mask wrote an editorial on the problems he saw with the program and offered solutions that he felt might turn the Coyotes seventh straight losing season around. He saw in the statistics the one thing that was blatantly obvious, the coaching staff was not making adjustments nor moving players around to positions that best fit their talents. Mask told me after the San Joaquin Memorial game where the Coyote offense fumbled the ball seven times, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing week after week and expect different results. "This is insane."

Then after the Sanger game, Mask wrote and I published his editorial. The next week his son, who normally started on the defensive line, sat on the bench. He played one quarter and sat for the entire second half. Later in the week Mask, who was a volunteer statistician for the team, was removed from the program by Cunnings. According to Mask the head football coach questioned his loyalty to the program and even forbad him from being around the team's field house at the stadium.

A little extreme if you ask me....to question someone's loyalty? From a guy who jumps from school to school and has only been at Madera High for a year? Cunnings doesn't know the first thing about bleeding 'Coyote Blue'. But then he doesn't need to, since our administration doesn't either. Principal Kent Albertson has only attended a couple Coyote games as his loyalty seems to be with the Clovis North Broncos and Buchanan before that.

There are real problems with both the Madera High and Madera South's football programs yet Madera High is the only school of the two to go through three head coaches in five years. Which makes me question what the real problems are at Madera High? Could it be that the current administration has no loyalty to the school, its students or even the community?

Five years ago the football program lost two of it's biggest supporters when former principal Ron Pisk retired and former athletic director Joe Aiello left the school to take a position with Clovis West. Since these two men left Madera High, the Coyotes have gone from a Division 1 team that could compete against the big boys in the Tri-River Athletic Conference to a Division 3 team in the County-Metro Athletic Conference that can barely stay above water. With rumors that the school is going to ask the California Interscholastic Federation to move the school down to division 4, I can only ask, why is this?

When Kent Albertson took over as principal, he brought in Shane Riddle as the athletic director. The first thing they did was fire a popular varsity baseball coach and replace him with one of Riddle's friends. Then a year later they put a target on the back of five-time CIF champion football coach Randy Blankenship.  Replacing him with a junior high coach that only gave Madera High three more losing seasons.

Now we have Bonner Cunnings, a man who left Lemoore High School after only one year as the head football coach. Before that he was the head coach at Fresno Christian after a stint at Madera South as an assistant. To me that says Cunnings doesn't have much loyalty to any of the programs that he has jumped from year-after-year. Now he questions the loyalty of a parent that is just fed up with the consistent losing seasons Madera High has suffered from for seven years.

Because this man shared his opinion in his editorial on Big Valley News, Cunnings throws him out of the program and tells him he is not to even come around the school's field house, where his son practices every day. Mr. Cunnings tells Mr. Mask that he is not allowed in the press box at Madera's Memorial Stadium despite the fact that he is also a sports writer for Big Valley News assigned to cover the Coyotes.

So now because Bonner Cunnings can't take criticism of his own program, the readers of Big Valley News aren't suppose to have the same access as the readers of the Madera Tribune, Fresno Bee or any of the television stations from Fresno that don't really seem to be interested in either of Madera's football programs?

It's time for a change and that change has to start at the top. For five years we've had nothing but losing seasons with three different coaches. But we've had the same athletic director. In his tenure as athletic director for Madera High not only has the football program been a failure, but I can't remember the last time MHS has had a winning season with the boys basketball program.

If the athletic director can't hire coaches that can win, maybe it's time we find someone qualified for that position. It's time we hired an athletic director who knows how to attract and hire quality coaches for our teams and stop taking whatever we have hanging around. We need someone with the guts to go after a Mike Anderson from Porterville or a Randy Blankenship from Clovis West. Not someone who settles for a Scott McKinney from a junior hight or a Bonner Cunnings from every where else.

It's time for the board to reassign Shane Riddle back to the classroom and put principal Kent Albertson on notice that the community of Madera isn't going to take his disrespect any longer. We live in this community. We pay the taxes that fund this school and allow him to live the high-life in Clovis. If he doesn't want to do things the MADERA way, we need to show him the way out of town.

It's time to restore pride in Madera High. To borrow a phrase from Jim Sweeney, We are Coyote Born, Coyote Bred, I'll be a Coyote until the day I am dead.

Go Coyotes!

 

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