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North State football community reacts to the loss of longtime coach Darren Trueblood

U-Prep head football coach Darren Trueblood smiles during a Shasta County Sports photo shoot in 2019. Trueblood passed away Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer and made a lasting impact in the North State as a coach and teacher. (FILE -- Tony Hord/Shasta County Sports)

The North State football community was dealt a devastating blow Thursday when hearing Shasta County coaching legend Darren Trueblood died Wednesday night following a battle with lung cancer.

Trueblood left a lasting impression with students, players, coaches and opponents through his time as a history teacher, baseball coach and football coach. He spent 13 years as the Enterprise High varsity football coach where he is the all-time leader in wins with 105, and spent the final two years coaching at U-Prep, turning in a 8-3 season in 2019 following a 6-5 mark in his first year.

SEE MORE | Opinion: Trueblood’s lasting impact, legacy felt on, off the field

The following accounts are from North State community members, past players, coaches, and opponents, who all shared memories of Trueblood for Shasta County Sports to publish.

If you wish to submit a memory of Darren Trueblood to this story, email ShastaCountySports@gmail.com or message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Anthony Cavalli

Enterprise football player (2009-10) and current Shasta College assistant football coach

My favorite memory of Coach Trueblood would have been as his TA. I knew what type of guy he was on the football field, I knew what type of teacher he was, but to be able to have so many more casual conversations with him where I could understand truly how much he loved his guys. He constantly was asking me more questions about my life and my future outside of football. He showed me that he truly cared about what I was gonna do with my life rather then what we were gonna do this upcoming Friday. Then as if I was his son, he constantly asked me what I was doing to make sure I could put myself in a situation where my dreams could come true. It showed me that to be a good football coach, you had to be a great human being and you had to care more about your guys then just what they brought to the field.

Taylor Angley-Holman

Enterprise player (2011-12) and Trueblood’s assistant coach at U-Prep

In 2007, my grandpa passed away after his own battle with cancer. Many people reached out and expressed their condolences, but their was one phrase from one man that has always stuck with me to this day. Darren Trueblood looked me in the eyes at my grandpa’s funeral service, and simply said, “I’ll always be here for you.” Coach always said, “don’t say it, live it,” and this was a true testament to just that. Coach was there for me from Little League baseball through the last days of his life, where I had the privilege of teaching and coaching alongside him. We spent countless hours after minimum days in our classrooms, and those talks are moments I will cherish forever. Coach was like a father to me, and his ability to be present in the moment was second to none. While he is gone far too soon, his passion for life and bettering all those around will forever live on. Darren Trueblood showed me what it looks like to “Enjoy The Journey.”

Bryan Coleman

Enterprise football player (2007-09)

Coach Trueblood was a gift to not only the athletic/scholastic communities but also our community as a whole. Whether you played for him or against him, he had an unwavering presence that commanded respect – though he always made it a point to earn the respect he was given.

He always preached the importance of stressing the details to achieve the desired outcome; along with reinforcing the importance of hard, but mindful work. This approach was always a direct testament to his true passion for coaching. His goal was never to just win championships, but to enable his players to achieve success in other avenues of life, well after the Friday night lights turn off.

The most important lessons that I received in my interactions were lessons that I didn’t understand were being provided in those moments. He delivered game to me that would become so much more important than the actual game we both poured our hearts and souls into. These teachings formed a foundation that would later pay their dividends through adulthood and as a professional.

It is because of Darren that I was able to be conscious of the decisions I made when no one was looking, both as an athlete and as a student. He inspired each of us to be more than a great player, but also an outstanding member of our community. He embodied the essence of what it means to be a great human being and the best possible individual you can become.

Thank you for your mentorship, thank you for harvesting my potential as an athlete and my potential as a man, and most importantly thank you for the journey… Rest in Power Coach!

Tyler Spence

Enterprise football player (2007-08) and Teacher/Coach/Athletic Director at Buckeye School of the Arts in Redding

I would say my most memorable experience with Coach Trueblood is the last game I ever played when we lost to Paradise my senior year in the playoffs. I remember he spoke to our senior class after the game and thanked us for the effort that was put in for him the last two years. I also will never forget after our senior banquet, he pulled me aside and said he saw lot of potential in me to eventually become a coach myself. This is what inspired me to get my teaching credential and also coach young kids. The thing that was so special about Darren was that he never actually stopped coaching you. Long after I was graduated, we would communicate back and forth via e-mail. I would ask him for advice when I was coaching youth football down in Sacramento, along with advice he had for me when I was in the teaching credential program. Each time I reached out to him, he always responded by sharing his wisdom to help me grow as an educator, coach, and most importantly as a person. He never stopped caring about you once your helmet came off for the final time. In fact, that’s when he cared about you the most.

Virgil Woods

Enterprise football player (2006-07) and longtime Trueblood varsity assistant

It was my senior year ‘07 season, I was QB we were up in Paradise and this game determined which one of our teams got to move on to playoffs. We scored a TD to be down by one with under a minute left in the game. I went to the sideline to get the play and coach and I had a choice to make. He asked me “well do we tie it or go for the win?” We looked at each other and both said “lets go for it.” And we did, and we were successful! When I looked back at coach on the sideline he was so excited I saw his play sheet he threw flying in the air. This is just a snapshot of how coach was always confident in us and willing to take the risk and taught us to believe and don’t be afraid to battle. I will never forget that moment.

Another kind of funny story was when I was now coaching alongside Trueblood, I believe it was the 2013 season team and we made it to the NorCal state bowl game- we were playing Manteca.
Our team was on the field warming up, and the mood was tense, serious and players and coaches could feel the nerves. But then coach ironically found a dollar bill on the field, and he walked right up to us and said “well we got our lucky buck, this is our luck for tonight” and he instantly made the mood lighter! We went on to win that game and go to the state championship. It was a great journey.

Honestly, Trueblood always has this ability, he always set the tone, he could make tense times lighter and he could make any moment more serious to all of us. He genuinely had an amazing ability to address his team, coaches and supporters. He brought a sense of community to surround the EHS football program and he built that. He always had basically every parent and supporter migrate down to the field and join his after game huddles, and he welcomed it. People, players, coaches were drawn to him, he had a special way of motivating others and had an impressive way with words, it felt like he always had the right thing to say at the time you needed to hear it most, and he always had an agenda to “raise young men” first and foremost. I will never forget him.

Dustin Fortenberry

Enterprise football (2000-01) and baseball player (2000-02) and Trueblood’s assistant football coach

Coach Trueblood was a man of the highest integrity and grit, he was certainly cut from a different cloth. I have been blessed to have him in my life in many capacities. Over 23 years of a relationship with someone who I looked up to, respected and loved. His persistent passion for the underdog, excellence in relationships, and unwavering loyalty to those he loved are certainly all qualities I wish more would embrace. His consistency is what I’ll truly remember, he was the best coach I’ve had at any level, but he taught us all how to be an honorable men who would always stand up for what is right. He is one of few people I’ve ever seen that was able to  perfect the art of balancing being a loving husband and father while pouring his soul into the students he taught and the student-athletes he coached.

He was an ultimate professional, gentleman, and competitor. I am eternally grateful God placed him in my life as a mentor and that I am one of many who will proudly carry on his legacy. Don’t ever quit. Put others first. It’s always the right time to do the right thing. We Not Me Forever. We love you coach.

Matt Hunsaker

Longtime football coach at Big Valley, Central Valley and Shasta

Matt Hunsaker was sad to hear of Trueblood’s passing. In his tenure at Central Valley, the Falcons often played Enterprise as a mutually-beneficial preseason contest. CV was testing its mettle against an upper-division foe while Hunsaker said Trueblood’s team used playing his Wing-T team in preparation for later against EAL foe Paradise.

“They were pretty good at wanting to practice how to stop it; that’s why he wanted to play us,” said Hunsaker.

But beyond the Xs and Os, the retired coach, who also had his own bout with cancer, said it was a “gut punch” to learn of Trueblood’s illness.

He said the coaching fraternity might wear different colors, but the goals they all share are the same.

“Even though we’re on opposite sides, we all fight the same fight,” Hunsaker said. “We’re teaching boys to become men through the game of football. It’s the things you can teach them as a person with the hook of football – God, family and friends – and everything else falls in line. In the long run, (the game and coaching ) it’s about friendships and sharing life’s trials and tribulations.”

Bryon Hamilton

Shasta College head football coach and former Foothill High coach

Darren Trueblood was a terrific and highly successful high school football coach. He possessed the ability to get the very most out of his players. He made an incredible and lasting impact in the lives of so many who were blessed to play for him and coach with him. I had the privilege of coaching against Darren in many incredible games. Those were good times. He always had his team ready to play and ready to represent Enterprise High School and East Redding in a fantastic way. His players and staff were always incredibly loyal to him; I was always impressed with the brotherhood that he was able to create. His impact in the Northern Section will always be cherished. The north state lost a excellent coach and leader, but more importantly we lost a terrific person.

Greg Grandell

Former West Valley Eagles head football coach and longtime opponent

Darren was a tenacious coach and competitor. I remember a story of an intense scrimmage one summer where both our  teams “in between” plays went out of Hornet & Eagle character and began talking smack / a shove here / a push there. After separating the boys Darren and I made eye contact and there was that competitive look we both understood without saying words. We knew if we could bridle this intensity in our boys and get them to be family and play like Hornets and Eagles (then) we knew we each had a good group. They were and we did. We both had a great season that fall. His teams were always United, Tough, and Disciplined. Darren more then any northern state coach showed his heart. Darren was so caring and loving during my teams loss of Tyson Wacker (in 2018) to the degree that he sent his thoughts and prayers daily to me plus brought his staff and team to the Wacker memorial at the West Valley FB field. He was a great coach, he was a great man and what I know of him was a loving father and husband. The north state football family will always miss and never replace Darren Trueblood. Husband, Father, Coach, Mentor and Friend. My heart aches.

Joey Brown

Foothill High head football coach and former opponent

The football coaching fraternity in our community is a special group of incredible men and fierce competitors.  When I became a head coach in 2013, our program was in a transition.  During that time, many coaches I respect came alongside in support. But, perhaps, the greatest support, came from our fiercest rival. Despite not having a flashy name, the rivalry between Foothill and Enterprise is as competitive as it gets. However, I still remember the words of affirmation I received from Coach Trueblood in those early years. Coming from a man who has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows throughout his career, he knew exactly what I needed to hear at that time. Coach Trueblood’s legacy will live on in the family that he loved dearly, the athletes he molded, the students he inspired, the coaches he encouraged, and a community that is better because of his example. There is no doubt as Coach Trueblood entered into glory, he heard the words from Matthew 25:13… “well done, good and faithful servant…” I pray that we can all have a similar impact on those put in our path.

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Staff Reports is content produced by the Shasta County Sports team.

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