Howren’s replacement brings 14 years of head coaching experience in Northern Nevada
It’s not hyperbole to say that when Ernie Howren stepped down on Jan. 10, the Reed football coaching vacancy became one of the most appealing in the nation.
The overwhelming number of applicants affirmed the notion.
Coaches sent waves of emails. Voicemail boxes filled. Some even showed up at the school unannounced, resume in hand. Within three days of the opening, coaches from 13 different states, reaching as far as the east coast, had contacted the school.
The search officially ended Thursday night, 36 days after Howren stepped down.
Longtime Northern Nevada football coach Tony Amantia was announced as the next man to lead the Raiders football program.
“We interviewed people from all over the nation and we found the most qualified, knowledgeable and experienced coach in our own backyard,” Reed Athletic Directory Ryan Sims said. “Tony is the coach to continue the excellence of football at Reed High School that Coach Howren has done so masterfully.”
Amantia, 47, was a head coach most recently at Damonte Ranch, where he was the school’s first football coach. He led the Mustangs from 2003-11. He landed his first head coaching opportunity at the ripe age of 26 at Bishop Manogue from 1996-98, after starting as an assistant at Galena.
This is not his first time replacing an iconic coach. After his first head coaching gig at Bishop Manogue, he replaced Wooster legend Joe Sellers. He led the Colts from 1999-2002.
“I know what the expectations are,” Amantia said. “That’s a given. This isn’t my first rodeo in this type of situation.”
Amantia was a player himself, starting his collegiate career as a linebacker at Bakersfield Junior College. He later transferred to Nevada and played for Chris Ault on the historic 1990 team that won two straight triple-overtime playoff games to advance to the former I-AA national title game.
He’s technically in the Ault coaching tree as well. He was a graduate assistant under Ault for two years.
“I leave and breath football,” Amantia said. “The last five years (he hasn’t coached since assisting Galena through the 2014 season) I’ve kind of come full circle … I’ve always known how important this game is. I know how important the game is for the boys, and teaching them how to work. That’s one the things I’ve always prided myself on.”
He takes over a program that has won 81 percent of its games the last eight years (89-21) and claimed six of the last eight regional titles.
The Raiders led this year’s 4A North title game against Damonte Ranch, 31-7, at the half only for the Mustangs to come back and end the run of consecutive regional titles at five, 49-45.
System wise, Amantia said he isn’t planning any major changes. The Raiders still boast one of the most talented rosters in the 4A North.
“Schematically, there’s not going to be a big change,” he said after meeting with the team for the first time on Friday morning. “The kids are ready to roll. It doesn’t make sense to change the system.”
Amantia is also staked with the responsibility of finding and an entire staff, a process he’s already started. All of Reed’s now former assistants went with Howren to Bishop Manogue.
He has a deep pool to draw from. After coaching football in Northern Nevada for nearly two decades, he’s created an impressive rolodex. Among those who reached out to congratulate Amantia following the announcement of his hire, was none other than his predecessor, Howren.
Many others have called to inquire.
“I’ve gotten quite a bit of attention from guys who want to coach,” Amantia said. “I’m really excited about some the people who have called me, and some of the guys I’ve called.
“I’m not a guy who’s going to give a handshake then hire somebody. I need to sit there and figure everything out.”
He knows he is in the unique position of continuing the legacy of a wildly successful football program. But it’s a situation Amantia embraces.
“My big thing, why I’m here, is because I think I can help,” he said. “I think I can help move this program (in the right direction). I’m here for this community and the kids. It’s not about me.”
The Amantia era will officially begin Friday, August 25 with a home non-league game against Clayton Valley Charter (Concord, Calif.). And yes, Reed will play Bishop Manogue in 2017.
The Raiders go on the road to play the Miners in the final non-league game of the season on Sept. 22.