A true leader in the community

At Louie Walters (right) final home game, the first quarterback for SVHS's Football Team Andrew Wick (left) returned to help celebrate and thank his coach. 

Editor’s Note: Bruce Eddy is a retired sportswriter who for 20 years has driven from his home in Paso Robles to announce Scotts Valley High School football games from what was recently renamed the Bruce Eddy Booth.

I’ve known Scotts Valley High School football coach Louie Walters for more than 40 years, dating back to when he and his brother “Jonny Cat” ended a long line of Walters boys attending Wilcox High School in Santa Clara and came to San Lorenzo Valley High, where I, a fellow student, got to announce their football and basketball games.

While Walters coached football and basketball at our alma mater for 15 years, I was the Public Address Announcer for many of his games, and I was privileged to frequently serve in that same capacity in his sidelight gig of running a series of alumni football games throughout northern California, while I toiled as a sportswriter and sportscaster throughout the same area. More recently, after he became the first coach ever hired by Scotts Valley High, I’ve had the honor of being the Falcons football PA Announcer for these past two decades.

As to the highlights, and there are many: five times Walters has been named Santa Cruz County Athletic League Coach of the Year, while his teams won four straight league titles (2006-09); has taken the falcons to the play-offs 10 times, he was recognized by the National Football League and the San Francisco 49ers as the regional Coach of the Week on three occasions; and was selected as head coach of a Northern California squad that played an All-Star game in Australia several years back, to cite just a few.

Walters leaves a program he founded then guided through the various stages of building one at the prep level: selling the students on the conjoined concepts of teamwork, dedication, sweat and hard work; selling their parents and families on the amount of time devoted to practice and training (including weight lifting), sometimes at odd hours and on otherwise parental free days; and travel to such exotic locations as, well, Felton, Santa Cruz, and Soquel (to say nothing of the games played in Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and Texas {the latter three against defending state champions}), that have earned Scotts Valley inclusion in the erstwhile bible of California high school sports, the Cal-Hi Sports record book, plus Sacramento, where he led a squad in a bowl game that honored our troops, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, in one of the first high school games in the home of the 49ers, where the Falcons claimed the unofficial Crown of the County with a 7-0 win over Watsonville.

Along the way, he has coached any number of players who have earned honors and provided memorable performances. And while he is as deservedly proud of that as one can imagine, it is not just the stars of which he speaks: there are the countless young men (and in some cases young women) whose lives he has touched, improved, blessed.

To mention any deserving names is to inadvertently omit additional ones, of course, but among the stars Walters cited are five players he noted were selected to All-State teams over the years (in no particular order): quarterback Isaac Dawid, in the record books for having gone an entire season with just one interception thrown, while also having logged three of SVHS’ longest interception returns for touchdown on the opposite side of the line; Noah Beito, kicker of a school-record (and Monterey Bay Area top-5) 48-yard field goal, who went on to boot collegiately for the Bears of Berkeley; the tough-running Jake Rehnberg, whose name occupies five of the top eight slots on the school’s list of Most Yards Rushing in a Game, plus the Falcon-best 43 carries in a game (in 2013);  tight end/linebacker Carson Spence, he of the multiple skills and matinee-idol good looks (do people still use that phrase?) (do people still know what a matinee idol is?); and His Highness, King Kyle Hardwick, whose 344-yard rushing output in a 2007 playoff victory over Carmel remains the standard by which all others are measured.  

Speaking of records: Walters’ as the Falcon coach includes having won more than 100 games it has been noted that he is just the fourth football coach in Santa Cruz County history to pass the century mark, joining, in order, legends Dewey Tompkins of Soquel (whose son Brad coached for Scotts Valley); San Lorenzo Valley’s Doug Morris (one of Walters’ mentors) and Watsonville’s Pops Geiser.

(Quick side note: The stadiums at the first and third of those schools have been named for the respective coaches, and while Louie would never give this a thought, even with the tremendous sendoff given him at his last home game on Oct.19 – highlighted by presentations by Scotts Valley Unified School District Superintendent Tanya Krause, SVHS Principal Michael Hanson and, representing his teams through the years, Lewis LaHood, a standout Falcon lineman of yore now the championship-winning SVHS Junior Varsity head coach - but any thoughts by the SV school board on adding to that figure?).

(I should note here that while it was Louie whose idea and effort led to the announcer’s booth at his home stadium being named for yours truly, the above is most deserving and not a matter of quid pro quo.)

There are two wins in particular of which Louie spoke, both over (who else?) SLV: one, a five-overtime affair a few years back; and, early in the rivalry, a comeback from 21-7 down to win 28-27, with the final touchdown scored on a punt return by Artie Atencio, who has joined Walters both in the SVHS Athletic Hall of Fame and on the Falcons football coaching staff.

In going, Walters also expressed his thanks to Tami Kittle, the first Athletic Director at the school, who hired him; local prep athletic legend and patriarch Dave Mercer (godfather to Louie and wife Kristi’s elder daughter Kaila) and the aforementioned Doug Morris – “I couldn’t have done this without their mentorship” - and his top assistant, Jeff Metter, also an SVHS Hall of Famer who was Walters’ first hire and like his boss is stepping down after two decades atop Glenwood Drive – “he was with me on Day 1 of this journey.”

Oh, and about that sendoff he received two weeks ago: there were countless former Falcons there to say goodbye and thank you, in addition to any number of his former Cougar players, most who joined him for a group photo on the 50-yard line for a fantastic memento that is set to occupy a place of honor in his office.

And it will still be his office, by the way, because while he is retiring from coaching (though he admits his future may include a return at a below-varsity level) and teaching, he will be the Falcons’ Athletic Director, a post he’s held for the past 18 years, for few more years.

During those years and beyond, he says he plans to continue to spend a lot of time in Kona, where he, Kristi, Kaila and her husband, and second daughter Kenedi (a star athlete during her years as a Falcon and now a Cabrillo College Lady Seahawk on the hardwoods) have often visited.

Aloha, Louie, and Mahalo.

In closing, Walters says, “What I’ll miss most is the relationship with the kids and seeing them grow into young adults.”

With apologies to his successor, whoever that may be, the Falcons of the future don’t know what they’ll be missing.

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