Football

Once-powerful Skyline hires longtime Oakland Tech football coach: “I understand their prestigious history”

OAKLAND  –  Skyline’s storied football program tabbed a longtime Oakland fixture as its next head football coach. 

Virdell Larkins III announced on social media that he will coach at Skyline a few months after departing from Oakland Tech. 

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Larkins, 37, told the Bay Area News Group on Monday afternoon. “I feel like someone who played for the Raiders, and then just signed with the 49ers … It was a hard decision, but I sat down and talked to my family about it.”

The Tech alum spent 11 years as the Bulldogs’ head coach, where he went 53-54 according to MaxPreps. Larkins’ Tech team reached the past two Oakland Athletic League titles, also known as the Silver Bowl. 

So why did Larkins leave the successful Tech program, which replaced him with another Tech alum in Anthony McCrady?

“The administration wanted to move in a different direction,” said Larkins, who added that he harbors no ill will toward his alma mater.

Larkins, alongside cousins Josh Johnson and future NFL All-Pro Marshawn Lynch and coached by Delton Edwards, won the 2003 Silver Bowl against Skyline as a player. 

That was legendary coach John Beam’s last game in charge of the Titans, who moved on to Laney College, where he remains to this day. Skyline was the premier team in the OAL under Beam from 1987-2003, winning 15 league championships and 160 games overall. 

Larkins said he regularly speaks with Beam, his former coach at Laney, and considers him a mentor that he shares an “unbreakable bond” with.

“My dad being a coach at Oakland Tech growing up, I saw the dominance of Skyline, and I understand their prestigious football history Skyline has,” Larkins said.

Two decades after beating Skyline in the Silver Bowl, Larkins will be the program’s third head coach in as many seasons. KC Adams coached the team in 2022, and Jonathan Carroll led the program in 2023. Skyline went 2-7 last season and forfeited its playoff game against McClymonds. 

So what are the expectations for his first season?

“I don’t want to put a number on it, but you can quote me when I say that we’re going to win right now,” Larkins said. “We’re not winning tomorrow, we’re not winning later, we’re winning right now.”

Larkins stopped short of predicting Skyline would reach the heights it did in the 1990s. After all, McClymonds, even without retired coach Michael Peters, still has not lost a game to an OAL opponent since 2009.

“I feel like it still goes through Mack until we beat them in a Silver Bowl,” Larkins said.

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