The motivations for high school football coaches are many.
Some choose to build a program that is the envy of many and shoot for decades of dominance. These coaches certainly have opportunities to go to the next level but are content staying where they are, running the course at one school.
Coaches like Matt Sweeney at Foothill and Bob Ladouceur at De La Salle are perfect examples. Both had multiple chances to venture on, but each chose to stay at the school where they made their fame.
Then there are coaches who have a different goal for their skill-set. You look at any great college or pro coach and many of them cut their coaching teeth at the high school level before advancing up the ladder.
They learn and nurture their coaching style as a high school coach then move on to coaching in college, hoping to learn from an established collegiate coach. Such is the case for 2002 Amador Valley High graduate Ryan Partridge.
Partridge was stellar as a player for the Dons and once he got into coaching also excelled. He built up a Livermore High program to respectability. He then took a job as the head man at Liberty High and skyrocketed to the top.
While at Liberty, Partridge turned the school into a Northern California powerhouse, leading the school to the 2018 DI-A California Championship after compiling a perfect 10-0 mark in league.
His initial Liberty team, in 2017, claimed the school's first North Coast Section Division I Championship. This past season, in 2019, he guided Liberty to a 10-2 overall record.
In the last three years, Liberty finished with an overall mark of 34-5. Partridge was named the 2018 MaxPreps California Coach of the Year.
As he was gearing up for this upcoming season, Partridge attended a coaching clinic in Reno and while there met Ferris State University head coach Tony Annese.
Annese is a highly regarded coach and has turned the Big Rapids, Mich., college into a NCAA Division II powerhouse with the team advancing to the national semifinals three of the last four years.
The two had lunch together and a few days later Partridge got a text from Annese offering him a spot as an assistant coach in charge of the linebackers. It was not the first offer Partridge had from a college program, but it is the one he had been waiting to come along.
He was offered in March, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official announcement did not come until June.
"I have always had the mindset to coach somewhere other than California," Partridge said. "It is hard leaving, obviously, but I am excited for the next step."
The chance to learn from Annese certainly tipped the scale.
"Coach (Annese) is a longtime coach that is highly respected," Partridge added. "I am so excited about the chance to learn from him. I am ready to get going."
The lone tough part for Partridge in the process was telling his Liberty players he was leaving.
"It was hard -- I was sick to my stomach," he said. "But once I told them, the players were great. They were coming up and telling me how proud they were of me. There wasn't one disgruntled player."
It sounds as if Annese is as happy to have Partridge as the Amador grad is to be to heading to the school.
"We're thrilled to land someone of Ryan's caliber to fill an opening on our staff and believe he'll be an outstanding addition," Annese said in a press release from Ferris State. "He'll bring great energy and a tremendous work ethic and be an excellent fit for our program. We're looking forward to having him work as part of our defensive staff and believe he'll be able to develop great relationships with our student-athletes and continue the great family culture we've built at Ferris State."
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]