Ray Ratto

Ratto: Win or lose, Ladouceur stands tall


Ratto: Win or lose, Ladouceur stands tall

Bob Ladouceurs De La Salle Spartans are positioned to win their 93rd California State high school championship and his 3,583rd win as the teams head coach. More or less. Wikipedia and High School Football Database argue about his record, and frankly, if he cant be seen to give much of a damn which number is which, then it surely doesnt matter all that much.

Even though it is 370.

This would be an interesting topic if it was a rounder number, though; 371 doesnt really roll of the tongue, and he needs three more years to get to 400 anyway.

Tara VanDerveer, on the other hand, has a big round number staring her right in the yap. Shell be the fifth woman to get to 800, along with Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt, C. Vivian Stringer and Sylvia Hatchell.

(Note for those not spending their spare time watching the women's game: Stanford's loss to DePaul Thursday night opens the door for Barbara Stevens of Bentley, which plays Sunday against C. W. Post, to move past VanDerveer.)

It is interesting to try and fit both VanDerveer and Ladouceur in a Bay Area coaching continuum, with the Pappy Waldorfs and Bill Walshes and John Maddens and Phil Woolperts and Jack Clarks and Dick Goulds and Mark Marquesses and Dick Williamses and Paul Danielses, to see if there is a way to make sense of numbers like 370 and 800.

And yes, championships do become a pretty useful tiebreaker.

There, Ladouceur, whose canvas has been a little easier to paint on as a high school coach, stands as tall as any of them. There has never been a high school coach in California so dominant on the state-wide level, and whether he likes it or not, the 151-game winning streak that ate up most of the '90s will in part define him.

But that being the case, VanDerveer isnt far behind, with two titles and two runner-up finishes in the UConn Era. Maybe she doesnt hang with Walsh or Gould, the Stanford tennis coach, or Clark, the Cal rugby coach, but she is surely there with Woolpert, the USF coach in the Bill Russell era, and Williams, who guided the Oakland As to their first two World Series titles, and in a spirited debate with Madden, who won one Super Bowl and came close several other times.

BRAZIL: Turning back the clock with CIF title games

There are others in the continuum, more than can be reasonably mentioned here, but Ladouceur and VanDerveer are players on any list. That they dont make more of a fuss on their own behalf is a mutual character flaw we can deal with another team.

Although if either one of them want to start some cross-country spitting contest with Barbara Stevens, well, wouldnt say no. True, wed wonder why Ladouceur would care about Barbara Stevens under any circumstances, but were open to all eventualities.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

For the record, and just so you can’t say you weren’t told, these are the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and the 50 backups. Draw your own conclusions.

(Author’s note: We list these only because Joe Webb was just signed by the Buffalo Bills, whose starter and first backup, Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates, are still in the concussion protocol).


DENVER: Trevor Siemian (Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler)

KANSAS CITY: Alex Smith (Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray)

LOS ANGELES: Philip Rivers (Cardale Jones)

OAKLAND: Derek Carr (E.J. Manuel, Connor Cook)


BALTIMORE: Joe Flacco (Ryan Mallett)

CINCINNATI: Andy Dalton (AJ McCarron)

CLEVELAND: DeShone Kizer (Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Josh Woodrum)

PITTSBURGH: Ben Roethlisberger (Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs)


HOUSTON: Tom Savage (DeShaun Watson)

INDIANAPOLIS: Scott Tolzien (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett)

JACKSONVILLE: Chad Henne (Blake Bortles)

TENNESSEE: Marcus Mariota (Matt Cassel)


BUFFALO: Nathan Peterman (Taylor, Yates, Webb)

MIAMI: Jay Cutler (Matt Moore, David Fales)

NEW ENGLAND: Tom Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo)

NEW YORK: Josh McCown (Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg)


ARIZONA: Carson Palmer (Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert)

LOS ANGELES: Jared Goff (Sean Mannion)

SAN FRANCISCO: Brian Hoyer (C.J. Beathard)

SEATTLE: Russell Wilson (Austin Davis)


CHICAGO: Mike Glennon (Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez)

DETROIT: Matthews Stafford (Jack Rudock)

GREEN BAY: Aaron Rodgers (Brett Hundley)

MINNESOTA: Sam Bradford (Case Keenum)


ATLANTA: Matt Ryan (Matt Schaub)

CAROLINA: Cam Newton (Derek Anderson, Brad Kaaya)

NEW ORLEANS: Drew Brees (Chase Daniel, Taysom Hill)

TAMPA BAY: Jameis Winston (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin)


DALLAS: Dak Prescott (Cooper Rush)

NEW YORK: Eli Manning (Geno Smith, Davis Webb)

PHILADELPHIA: Carson Wentz (Nick Foles)

WASHINGTON: Kirk Cousins (Colt McCoy)

Again, draw your own conclusions. I know I’ve drawn mine.