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Mattos’ short stay at Turlock touched many lives

POSTED March 17, 2010 12:07 a.m.
Ron Cornell spent four decades coaching at Denair High until he called it a career in 2009.
He might not have even considered coaching in the first place if it wasn’t for Bob Mattos, whose short stay at Turlock High was memorable as he was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs in 1970. That year, they were 10-0.
People who were around that team know that Mattos was an important piece to Turlock’s success, as some reflected on his life after hearing news that the longtime coach died on Sunday morning at his home in Rancho Murieta after a battle with brain cancer. He was 68.
Mattos’ career took off at Sacramento State, where he rebuilt the school’s football program by taking the Hornets to their last postseason appearance. But Cornell, the retired Denair coach, remembers Mattos returning from college and showing the high school freshman at the time the importance of weight-lifting to prepare for football. Mattos became Cornell’s mentor.
Mattos touched people’s lives, and not just in sports.
“I don’t care what career you’re in,” Cornell said, “he was the guy you look up to, not just for me but for a lot of people.”
Alan Tate was coached under Mattos when the Bulldogs went undefeated in 1970. Tate said the then-assistant coach was an ambitious man who brought enthusiasm into the Turlock locker room during the Les Ratzlaff era, even sometimes giving speeches before the games.
“He was a good coach,” said Tate, now a retired police officer. “He made you believe in yourself. He made us better than we were.”
That was the kind of philosophy Mattos took with him to Sacramento State, where he coached from 1978 to 1992 and compiled an 84-73-2 record. In 1988, the Hornets landed in the Division II semifinals under his tutelage.
Before then, he had stints at Orestimba High in his hometown of Newman, Turlock High and Stockton’s Stagg High, with the latter stop resulting in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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