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Granite Bay names interim head football coach

James "Skip" Albano, a veteran with the Grizzlies' program, replaces Ernie Cooper
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Granite Bay High School on Friday announced it has named James “Skip” Albano as interim head coach of the varsity football team.

Albano replaces Ernie Cooper, who stepped down June 5 after leading the Grizzlies to the Sac-Joaquin Section, CIF Northern California and CIF Division I state championships last season. Cooper started the program when Granite Bay opened in 1996 and won five section banners total.

Albano is familiar to a Granite Bay football community that embraces the chemistry — and fly offense — that has helped make it one of the top programs in greater Sacramento, Northern California and, now, the state. He was receivers/fly backs coach in 2000 and 2001 and again in 2011, offensive coordinator in 2002 and linebackers coach in 2008. Albano also served as co-head coach/offensive coordinator for the JV team in 2003. Granite Bay won section championships in 2000 and 2011.

“It is never easy replacing a legend, but Skip Albano is a perfect fit for Granite Bay High School,” athletic director Tim Healy said in a news release issued by the school. “He coached with Ernie, and he is intimately familiar with the commitment and keys to our program’s success.”

Albano has worn other school colors in Roseville — he was the offensive coordinator/running backs coach at Woodcreek in 1998 and 1999 and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/running backs coach at Oakmont from 2004-06.

He also has coached abroad. Albano was the defensive coordinator for the Danube Dragons in Vienna, Austria, in 2007, receivers coach for the Austrian National Team from 2009-11, and run coordinator/running backs/offensive and defensive line coach for the Raiffeisen Vikings in Vienna from 2009-11.

He split time between Italy (defensive coordinator/special-teams coach with the Bolzano Giants) and Sierra College (receivers coach) in 2012, and after serving as head coach/offensive coordinator of the Thun Tigers in Switzerland this year, Albano is back in Granite Bay.

“It is a real thrill to return to Granite Bay, and it is exciting to have the chance to build on the success we have become accustomed to here in the community,” Albano said in the news release. “I can assure people we will be prepared, we will play hard, and we will continue Ernie’s tradition of developing great teams and even better individuals.”

A graduate of Del Campo High School, where he was a tight end, Albano played linebacker for Sierra in 1968. He went on to earn degrees at American River College and Sacramento State before completing his master’s degree in education at Cal State Bakersfield. Albano was an adjunct professor at Sierra for four years and has been a high school educator for 35 years.

Granite Bay plans to launch a search for a permanent head coach after the completion of the 2013 season.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.