Tigers hire Lemoore High School alum to coach varsity football team as Coronavirus threatens high school sports

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Rich Tuman, LHS football coach
Rich Tuman, LHS football coach

Lemoore High School Thursday night hired its third head football coach in the last three years when the district’s board of trustees approved the hiring of former Tiger and San Joaquin Memorial assistant coach, Rich Tuman. Last year's coach, Josh Kloster, who took the Tigers to the second round of the Central Section playoffs in 2019, opted to step down this season.

A year ago Kloster's Tigers defeated West High 28-20 before losing to Bakersfield Christian 49-7 in the second-round playoff game. Lemoore, which got off to a slow 1-4 start in 2019, rebounded in West Yosemite League action, winning three of five league games to earn a spot in the playoffs.

Whether Tuman even gets a chance to coach in 2020 is still up in the air. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is considering the ramifications of high school athletics in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. CIF officials will determine later this month whether high schools will field sports teams at all this year.

Tuman, an LHS grad, has a long history with local football. He played under J.T. Reason, a long-time varsity head coach. Other coaches included Bob Clement and Don Steele.

Tuman is currently vice president of Ano-Tech Metal Finishing in Clovis and is a 1983 Lemoore High School alum who played football for the Tigers and later coached in a variety of roles, starting as a coach for a legendary youth football Lemoore Bengals that managed to win 33 straight games.

He also coached a Lemoore junior varsity team that went 19-1 over his two seasons at the helm. He took on the offensive coordinator role at Kings Christian for two years before taking a hiatus from the game.

After high school, he joined the United States Army and found himself in Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he got to play a little more football. “That’s where I started coaching,” he recalled. “I injured my knee, and while rehabbing, they asked to coach the defensive line.”

in 2014 Tuman began a three-year term as the San Joaquin Memorial junior varsity coach. “They brought me up to varsity, and I was the offensive passing coordinator. We won three straight valley championships.”

He’s already started coaching. Teams were allowed to begin light practices on July 1, though workouts aren’t quite the same. There are health screens before every practice, and there is little if no contact in the early stages of summer practice. “We can’t even throw a football,” said Tuman, who has been supervising the practices.

Like most coaches in all sports, the future is a bit unpredictable. The CIF will have the final say as to the viability of sports programs during the fall season. Valley CIF officials are expected to announce by July 20, the future of athletics in 2020-21.

The new Central Section CIF commissioner is Ryan Tos, a long time CIF official and Central Section athletic coordinator. Tos serve as an athletic director for two years before hiring on with the CIF.

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