High school football: Former NFL standout returns as Bishop O’Dowd’s coach

OAKLAND — Nine years after he stepped down as Bishop O’Dowd’s football coach, former Cal and NFL standout Hardy Nickerson is back.

Nickerson is returning to the sideline at O’Dowd, the school announced Wednesday.

He takes over from David Perry, who had replaced another NFL standout, Napoleon Kaufman, two years ago.

In four seasons at O’Dowd from 2010-13, Nickerson was 29-17 overall and 18-6 in league play. His teams won the Hayward Area Athletic League championship in 2010 and 2011 with undefeated league records.

Nickerson returned to the Bay Area after stepping down as defensive coordinator at Illinois in 2018.

“I love football,” Nickerson, 56, said Wednesday. “Some friends were telling me when the O’Dowd job opened, ‘Hey, Coach, let’s get back into coaching.’ They kind of sparked the interest. So I jumped into the process and here I am. I am the new head coach.

“It’s just an opportunity to coach kids again. Football has always been a huge passion of mine. I’ve been involved with football for almost 40 years now.”

When Nickerson stepped down in November 2013, he told the Bay Area News Group, “I felt like there were other things that I wanted to pursue that are not football-related. Bishop O’Dowd has been great. The administration has been great.”


Dragons Welcome New Head Football Coach! We are excited to welcome @hardynickerson back to O’Dowd as the Head Football Coach!

— Bishop O’Dowd Football (@ODowd_FB) April 6, 2022


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