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Two successful Bay Area high school football coaches step down

Two Bay Area high school football coaches whose teams won a combined 17 games last fall announced that they have stepped down.

Gunn’s Jason Miller sent out a news release Friday, stating that he is leaving the Palo Alto school to become the head coach at Bellflower High in Southern California.

Miller’s announcement came a day after Encinal’s Keith Minor posted on Facebook that he won’t be back on the sideline at the Alameda school.

Gunn went 25-10 in four seasons under Miller and won two Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division championships. The Titans finished 8-2 last fall.

Encinal was 39-13 in five seasons under Minor, winning three league championships. The Jets went 9-2 overall and 6-0 in their league last fall.

In his Facebook post, Minor called the decision to step down one of the toughest of his coaching career.

“I want to take this time to thank the entire Encinal community for supporting me during my tenure as head coach,” Minor wrote. “I will always remember and cherish the love and support I received and the passion for Encinal Football. To all the parents of my players thank you for letting me coach your sons and daughters and for supporting our program with your hard work and resources.

“To all the players I’ve coached … thank you for making me a better coach, and person, and for playing your hardest every time the lights came on Friday Night at the swamp. Lastly, the Encinal faculty and staff thank you for all your hard work and dedication to our student-athletes.”

Encinal football coach Keith Minor gestures to his players during an afternoon practice in July 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff

Miller, an African-American man who brought social-justice awareness to the academically-driven Gunn students in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing in 2020 and later amid the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes, is returning to Southern California to coach with his brother, Keith.

Before arriving at Gunn, Miller coached at Dominguez-Compton, Inglewood and Verbum Dei-Los Angeles.

In his news release, Miller said he is excited about coaching with his brother and that Gunn’s football program, which struggled to win before Miller’s arrival, had “pretty much reached our ceiling.”

He added, “When I arrived we had 40 players in the program, now the cupboard is filled with 80 athletes. We started a football family, which will roll along with whoever the new coach is.”

Success on the field isn’t all that Miller will remember.

Addressing his social-justice achievements, Miller stated, “There is a ton to be proud of from my time at Gunn.  We made an impact on campus and in the community.  I’ll never forget the Gunn kids, they inspired me to give my best every day.”

Miller’s departure comes less than two weeks after Nelson Gifford, an African-American man who also spoke out about social justice in the aftermath of the Floyd killing, stepped down as Palo Alto’s football coach.

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