Lassen High School has had an impressive football team for more than two decades and that is in no small part due to its head coach, Tom St Jacques. The multi-titled coach has announced that this 2019 football season would be his last with the team.
St Jacques has coached high school football for 38 years, and 25 of those have been here at Lassen High School as its head varsity coach where has led the Grizzlies to playoffs 24 of those years and won five section titles.
Those five section titles all landed within a single decade: St Jacques led the Grizzlies in 2001, 2002, 2003 then in 2009 and 2010.
St Jacques said of the 2003 section title game against Sutter, “In 2003 we weren’t supposed to win, we were 7-3 and Sutter was 10-0 and we just stomped them at their place and it was just really fun defeating an undefeated team.”
The Grizzlies coach has a long and storied football history that started long before his tenure at Lassen High School. St Jacques started at Norta Vista High School in Riverside, California, where he played baseball, basketball and football, and he made quarterback for the team his senior year.
St Jacques then went on to Riverside City College for a year before transferring to Cal State Fullerton for two years. Opportunity struck when he signed with the New England Patriots, but it wasn’t long before he was let go and he headed back to California.
St Jacques then got a shot at the then Los Angeles Rams who, unfortunately for him, just re-signed their Super Bowl quarterback, Vince Ferragamo. But St Jacques was then given another chance with the United States Football League team, the L.A. Express, but again fate intervened when they signed a young quarterback by the name of Steve Young.
At this point, St Jacques decided to instead go back to school and get his teaching credential. This would ensure football would still be a part of his life and he began coaching right away.
St Jacques coached freshman and JV at his alma mater, Norta Vista, before coming up to Lassen High School.
St Jacques described coming into Lassen and building his assistant coach staff and having the booster club operated by the McMullens and now by the St Andres.
The coach said of the boosters, “Any head coach that says it’s because of them is out of their mind. It’s all about who you surround yourself with. I was blessed to inherit the McMullens. With them, we built the field house, press box, snack bar, was able to put in a new field, goal posts, a new weight room in the school and a varsity locker room, all funded by the booster club not the school.”
At Lassen he also surrounded himself with what he described as great and loyal assistance. Paul Moore, who has been at St Jacques’ side for 20 years, Kace Camacho, Rob St Andre, former player Jason McMullen, while Paul Geoia and Kevin McCullough run the JV and freshman teams.
Moore said of St Jacques, “Coach St Jacques has been a pillar in our community for the past 25 years where he has lead Lassen High to five Section Championships and 10 league titles, but this only scratches the surface of what he has done for kids over the last 25 years.”
Moore continues, “I have seen him mold boys into men over and over. I have also seen through his leadership groups of boys forming a football family and being connected for life. Tom has dedicated his life to making Lassen High a better place both on and off the field.
“I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to coach with Tom and have learned so much about coaching from him — but more importantly about life.”
St Jacques’ departure from Lassen High School spells the end of an era. He described his plans once he does retire: Lots of golfing, fishing and spending as much time with his grandchildren as he can.