Back in the 80's and 90's on the Central Coast, high school football was preeminent. One of the reasons why was because of coaching legend, Larry Welsh.
His legacy era with Atascadero High School was between 1979-1997. After 18 years, he completed a record of 192-37-1 with seven CIF Southern Section titles, 14 league titles, and was named the Southern Section Coach of the Year seven times.
"In 1982, we went 14-0 and won the championship," said Blaise Smith, Former Atascadero football player, class of 1982 who received a football scholarship to UC Berkeley. "I had three other teammates who went to Division I schools and talking over the years, none of us were the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, but every one of us was the best coached."
Welsh's coaching career started in 1966 at Gonzales High School in Monterey County.
"My first coaching job, I got over the telephone. A guy called me about three times from Gonzales and I told him, 'I don't got a whole lot to do'," Welsh said.
His legacy earned himself a spot in the Salinas Valley Sports, Gonzales, and Atascadero Hall of Fame. On October 18th, 2017, Larry Welsh will become the first ever Greyhound coach to be inducted into the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame.
"Having a first coach to have made it in is a testament to what he's done. Not just about football," said Sam DeRose, Atascadero Athletic Director. "I think what he brought to the community and what he developed and tried to encourage in the community is still evident."
When asking Welsh about what contributed to his success, he answered about the importance of having the combination of one school and one district. Welsh also valued the importance of his players participating in more than one sport. When it came to football, he explained how beneficial it was to host film sessions for the player's families to understand the game. Most importantly, Welsh said the success came from the support of his wife, Barbara. She came to every football game and hosted the booster club every week.
After Welsh's high school coaching career, he would spend his final coaching years with Cal Poly from 1998-2001.
Along with football, Welsh coached high school basketball and wrestling for 14 years as well as coached track and golf for 25 years.
Here is a timeline of some of Larry Welsh's accomplishments as a head coach:
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 Mission Trails Athletic League Coach of the Year
1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995 Los Padres league Coach of the Year
1970 & 1982 California Medium Schools Coach of the Year
1982 Head Coach SLO County All-Star Game
1982, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 CIF SS Coach of the Year
1992 Co-Head Coach South, California North-South Shrine game (South won 35-8)
1993 Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Professional Man of the Year
1995 Cal-Hi-Prep State Coach of the Year
2006 Gonzales High School Hall of Fame
2008 Atascadero High School Hall of Fame
2012 Honorary Head Coach SLO County All-Star Football Classic
2014 Salinas Valley Sports Hall of Fame
2017 CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame
Four consecutive CIF SS Championships from 1993-1996
Seven overall CIF SS Championships
.826 winning percentage, state record for coaches with +200 wins
.944 winning percentage between 1979-1983, best in the state of California
California record of most wins in a decade with 111
Board member Southern California Football Coaches Association
CIF Football Advisory Committee Member, 1984-1985
Central Coast Board Member, California State Athletic Directors Association, 1975
Founded Salinas Valley Pop Warner League, 1968
Gonzales Recreation Commission Member, 1971-1975
Organized Atascadero High School Athletic Booster Club, 1979
Charter Director Atascadero High School Athletic Foundation, 1994