COACH CRISS Healdsburg High’s new head football coach, Christian Rosales, was part of the coaching team at St. Vincent de Paul High in Petaluma that took the boys to state last year—where they ended up winning the Division 6-AA championship. (Photo by David Stuetel, courtesy of Christian Rosales)

The struggling football team at Healdsburg High School has a fresh new leader looking to help tell a comeback story under the Rec Park lights.

HHS alum Christian “Criss” Rosales, 28, comes in hot: He’s been assistant-coaching for the past couple of years at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, reporting to top Sonoma County football coach Trent Herzog. He tasted victory at the end of last season when the boys from St. Vincent took home the state championship for their division.

“We’re the second team in Sonoma County to ever win a state title in football,” Herzog says. “Cardinal Newman did it in 2019, and we did it in 2023.”

Healdsburg’s recent record sits on the other end of the scale. The HHS football team has now gone without a single win for two straight seasons. By all accounts, though, the team did show significant improvement last year under seasoned county coach Randy Parmeter—even eking out one tie in a high-scoring 42-42 game against Berean Christian High from Walnut Creek.

Parmeter only lasted a year in the role. He was fired by the school’s athletic director, Joshua Cavanagh, after a dispute that Parmeter claims was related to off-season fundraising activities.

Rosales, the coach’s replacement, calls Parmeter a “great guy.” He says his predecessor “definitely has passion” and believes “his intentions were spot-on with helping the program.”

Looking forward, Rosales will be doing things a little differently. Since landing his first-ever job as a varsity head football coach last week, Rosales says he has assembled a crew of nearly 20 assistant coaches between the JV and varsity squads. The plan, he says, is to split the HHS football coaching salary between them all.

Healdsburg’s new coaching crew plans to tailor their approach to the athletes of the day. “Young players these days are very smart,” Rosales says. “They perform the best when they understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what we’re doing. The philosophy behind it.”

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Healdsburg High School quarterback Nova Perrill, the team’s leading rusher and passer last season, returns as a senior this year—along with many other top HHS players. (Photo by Joe Rowland)

Rosales believes that “as coaches, if we can answer all these questions,” players will be more likely to understand and buy into the system, and hold themselves and each other accountable.

Just over a decade ago, Rosales, Class of 2013, stood in the same shoes as his players, as a member of the winning HHS football team under legendary coach Tom Kirkpatrick. After that, Rosales continued playing for the Santa Rosa Junior College team while attending school there—then worked as an assistant coach for a rotating roster of head football coaches at HHS, before signing on with St. Vincent.

“Players love him,” says Herzog, St. Vincent’s coach. “He’s a player’s coach. They’re going to work really hard for him—they’re gonna play hard.”

Herzog calls it a perfect fit. He says of his former assistant: “Obviously, he’s a Hound and loves Healdsburg. From the first day I met with him, he always told me he would love to become the head coach at Healdsburg, if that opportunity ever happened. And it happened. So I’m super proud and excited for him. I think he’ll do a really good job.”

Another leg up for the HHS underdogs this upcoming season will be the new league structure within the North Coast Section (NCS). Most of their opponents last season were in higher divisions, based on school enrollment, which usually means a better selection of players and more success on the field.

The new schedule will suit a Division 7 team (550 students and below) like the Greyhounds. It will be called the Mountain League, and its members will include Archie Williams (San Anselmo), Novato, Piner, San Rafael, Sonoma Valley, Terra Linda and Healdsburg.

“With the attempt at more equity, the teams next year should give the Hounds a chance to have more success,” Richard Bugarske, the game announcer for the Hounds at Rec Park, said at the end of last season.

Practice begins next month on the high school field for the 30 or so HHS students planning to play football this fall. The 2024 season will kick off with an Aug. 30 home game against Cloverdale.

“It’s definitely going to be fun,” Rosales says. “It’s gonna be a lot of old-school attitude with modern-school football.”

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Simone Wilson was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where she was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound's Bark. She has since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. Simone is now a senior product manager and staff writer for the Healdsburg Tribune.


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