Ladouceur at the helm of all-time great program

ladouceur_bob_de_la_salle.jpg

Ladouceur at the helm of all-time great program

In his 4th decade of leading De La Salle Football, coach Bob Ladouceur has built more than a perennial champion…  

…more than a program that became a national brand after winning a record 151 games in a row…  

…more than a team currently holding a 235 game northern California win streak…  

…To hear senior receiver Andrew Buckley tell it, Bob Ladouceur has built men.  “He cares about trying to turn us into men,” Buckley said “so we can accomplish more things when we get older.”

Coach Ladouceur thinks his current band of Spartans has what it takes to accomplish a 4th straight Bowl Open Title.  But, he’s not yet sure.  

“To go all the way, and win out all the way,” Ladouceur said “It’s a hard road, and you’ve got to be pretty tough to do it.  We’ll see how tough these guys are.”  

Unlike all of the other storied postseason runs by Ladouceur’s Spartans, there’s a different element added to the mix this year.  Ladouceur—the leader of this program since 1979—has been throwing around the “R” word—as in “retirement.”  “I don’t want to lose any coaches we have here who would want to try and do this job,” Ladouceur said. “And, it’s time for them to try it too.  That’s more important to me than anything.  I’ve spent my life working in this and building this program...and helping build this program where it is...and I want to see it continue and get better when I’m not doing it.” 

As to the question of if Ladouceur is more likely to hang up his whistle this year than next, he added “I’m not sure yet.  I mean…one or the other.  I’m just going to see how I feel…and—you know—after I get out of the season for a few weeks or maybe a month or so and see how I feel about it.”

His players, like USC-bound linebacker Michael Hutchings, have heard the rumors about their coach.  “We haven’t even talked about it as a team,” Hutchings said.  “I’m sure after the season, it will be something that’s a little bit bigger amongst us and amongst the guys.  But right now, we’ve just got to focus on our season.”

Bob Ladouceur has spent his life focusing on the high school game—rebuffing offers to coach at higher levels of football.  He says he has no regrets.

“I’ve been happy,” Ladouceur exclaimed.  “If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change one thing.”

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

In push for playoffs, LA Kings acquire goalie Bishop from Tampa Bay

In push for playoffs, LA Kings acquire goalie Bishop from Tampa Bay

The Los Angeles Kings have acquired goaltender Ben Bishop in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Los Angeles sent Peter Budaj, defensive prospect Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and a conditional pick to Tampa Bay for Bishop and a 2017 fifth-round pick.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced the trade Sunday night, less than four days before the trade deadline.

Bishop, a pending unrestricted free agent, helped the Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Kings now have Bishop and 2012 and 2014 Cup winner Jonathan Quick, who returned Saturday from a long-term lower-body injury that had sidelined him since October.

The 6-foot-7 Bishop, 30, is 16-12-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.