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Jones resigns as Vista football coach

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Saying he’s burned out and wants to spend more time with his family, Chris Jones has resigned as Vista del Lago’s football coach.

Jones, 39, has been the face of Vista del Lago football during the school’s six-year existence, coaching the junior varsity team in 2007 and the varsity team in the five year’s since, compiling a 34-23 varsity record. The Eagles have improved every year since the varsity program started; winning two games in 2008 and then five, seven and eight in consecutive years until last year’s outstanding 12-2 record, ending with a loss to Oakdale in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title game.

“The biggest thing is I’m burned out,” Jones said. “About a month ago, there were things that I had to do and I was just dragging my feet to get started. Even after spring break, I still hadn’t made a lot of progress and I figured this probably wasn’t going to work out. Secondly, my kids are getting older and doing more and it’s been tough balancing that and having to miss their events.”

Jones and his wife, Melissa, live in El Dorado Hills with their kids, Cassidy, 12, and Brent, 9. Cassidy swims year round with the Sierra Marlins and Brent plays baseball all year with Hard 90.

After talking with his coaching staff early last week of his decision, Jones then spoke with Vista Principal John Dixon and Athletic Director Mark Keeton, before telling his friends and colleagues and then his players at a meeting Friday.

“It was a tough talk to the kids,” Jones said, “by far the most difficult piece of the whole thing. I felt it was important that they heard it from me and no one else.”

Vista quarterback Matt Jimison said he was shocked by Jones’ announcement, but that he and the team understands and respects his decision.

“We were all surprised,” Jimison said. “It’s sad to see a great coach and man leave, but we understand family comes first. As a team, we will overcome this adversity and be ready for the first game. It’s just another obstacle for us to get over, but we’ve got a close group and we’re not going to let anything get in our way.”

Aaron Marlette, who has coached with Jones for all 19 years of Jones’ career, starting with seven years at Oak Ridge prior to coming to Vista, also supports Jones’ decision.

“I understand where he’s coming from,” Marlette said. “What he basically said was that he can’t ask the kids to make a huge commitment if he can’t make it himself. It’s unfortunate. He’s great to work with and work for and he’s a great friend, but I totally understand and support him.”

Jones said while it was a difficult decision, he knew it was one he was going to make sooner than later.

“I’ve always saw myself doing this, I just didn’t know exactly when,” Jones said. “It’s still extremely difficult to walk away. Being a football coach is all I’ve and my family has known for the last 19 years. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared about what the future holds because all I’ve known is from May to November I’d basically have football practice every day and now that’s gone.”

Jones will remain at Vista as a physical education teacher, but has no plans to coach again in the near future. Down the road, he says he might get back into coaching, but he knows he’s made the right decision.

The Eagles are scheduled to start spring football next month. Keeton said the position will be advertised until Wednesday and hopes to have a replacement before spring ball starts.

“It’s tough to lose Chris,” Keeton said. “He’s a great coach.”