Pete Bouzos

Pete Bouzos

By OBREY BROWN

For the News Mirror

Tributes started gaining steam for Pete Bouzos, a longtime youth football coach on Yucaipa’s front lines, the second it leaked out that he died from complications of COVID-19 virus last week. Maurice Richardson, among those offering some of tributes, was 16-years-old when he first came in contact with “Coach Pete.” “I came up and helped him out,” said Richardson, tearfully, “and it just grew from there. I was playing on the high school team then. He got me into coaching. We coached together for 15 years.” Bouzos, 58, leaves behind a wife, Khristine, plus two adopted children. Richardson also said that when Khris’s sister died, they adopted both her sons.  A warehouse supervisor in San Bernardino, Bouzos suffered from diabetes, “which kept him from coaching,” said another football colleague, Mando Valles, “the past few years.” He spent a reported five days in the hospital before he died. A Riverside Rubidoux High product who emigrated to Yucaipa in the mid-1990s, Bouzos seemed to easily integrate into this city’s youth football culture. “The reason he came over here,” said Richardson, “is because the (Rubidoux) neighborhood he grew up in was getting bad. He bought his mom a house in Calimesa.” Bouzos, for his part, lived on Third St. in Yucaipa. “He is,” said Adrian Hermosillo, who played on Bouzos’ Pee Wee team in 2009, “a public figure. Considering everyone he coached, he’s touched a lot more people than anyone might think.” Valles said Yucaipa sent four teams to various division Super Bowl championships in 2018: “That’s four out of seven different divisions. Four teams reached the Super Bowl. That’s not too bad. Pete wasn’t coaching then, but he was president. “Yucaipa was getting back on the football map. Pete helped get them there.” That, said Richardson, “was the influence Pete had on Yucaipa football.” “It was tough love,” said Hermosillo, now 23, “when he coached us.” In order to play on Bouzos’ Pee Wee team though, Hermosillo had to lose 18 pounds to make weight. “I was 12 or 13,” he said. “I really wanted to play for him and (Richardson).” Figure there are plenty of ex-players from those Yucaipa Junior All-American Football teams he coached. “Hundreds,” said Randy Taylor, whose older brother, Alan, still holds most of Yucaipa High’s rushing records. “He was a staple in Yucaipa. Football? He knew the game like the back of his hand.” If there was a kid that couldn’t afford to play, Richardson said Bouzos made it happen, “whether it was a superstar player or just another kid.” That tab usually ran around $300. Major League Baseball pitcher Taijuan Walker, more of a baseball and basketball player at Yucaipa High, spent three seasons in YJAAF, said Richardson. There was, apparently, no father in his world, said Richardson. “One of Taijuan’s brothers told me that Pete was the closest thing he had to a dad,” said Richardson. “You couldn’t really think of YJAAF without thinking of him,” said longtime Redlands JAAF coach Adam Roque, also noting Bouzos’ position on Yucaipa’s local board. “His way of coaching never changed.”  Known as a “drill sergeant type of coach,” said Valles, Bouzos’ game plan might have reflected his Rubidoux-playing days. Those Falcons’ teams surged forward on a ground-oriented attack. “Pete,” said Vallez, “could coach any position.” That ground game followed him to Yucaipa. “He loved coaching quarterbacks,” said Richardson. “He was a no B.S. kind of guy. There was no nonsense.” Bouzos’ reach, both his coaching and board membership, led plenty of those youth players onto some highly-competitive Yucaipa High teams. Hermosillo estimated, maybe, half of YJAAF players made it on the T-Birds’ rosters. If there was a sidelight to his football-coaching days, it was food. A chuckling Richardson said, “There probably wasn’t an eatery in Yucaipa that Bouzos didn’t chow down from.” Said Valles: “He’d come up with a place to eat … somewhere … somewhere weird. It was great. Yeah, I’d go to those places he’d tell us about.” It was his connection to football — on and off the field — that made him popular with players and parents. Ida Hermosillo, mother to Adrian, who played on Bouzos’ Pee Wee team in 2009, reflected that her son faced a serious challenge once he reached high school. Adrian, suffering from glaucoma, was declared legally blind, curtailing his football-playing career after his junior season. “Pete was the only one who knocked on our door,” said Ida Hermosillo. “Adrian’s whole life changed. He was so depressed. Pete came along and kept getting him to face the challenge. It was his way of saying, ‘there’s more.’ ” “For me, as a parent,” said Hermosillo, “he not only uplifted up my son, but he uplifted our whole family.” “He had me come and help coach his team,” said Adrian, who is scheduled to graduate California State University, San Bernardino next year. “That helped me a lot. You really learn who your friends are.” Bouzos’ reach kept extending to more people. It was more than football, Taylor saying “that he had more impact than just on the football field.” Valles said, “He told me, ‘one day, you’re gonna take this over.’ I was in my 20s. I don’t know what he saw in me. “Now, I’ve been a coach and I’m the (chapter) president.” Diabetes slowed Bouzos, Richardson saying, “He got to the point where he couldn’t demonstrate (football) skills. He had to stop coaching.” Said Ida Hermosillo: “I never, ever thought that someone from JAAF would have that much influence on my son.”

0
0
0
3
0

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.