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Former Crescenta Valley High coach dies at 79

Football: Gordon Warnock led Falcons to 1973 CIF title.

September 23, 2010|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
  • [20040923 (LA/A6) -- Legendary Crescenta Valley High football Coach Gordon Warnock passed away at 79.
[20040923 (LA/A6) -- Legendary Crescenta Valley High… (Roger Wilson/Staff…)

GLENDALE — Gordon Warnock, who guided the Crescenta Valley High football team to its lone CIF championship and was a fixture in the local coaching fraternity for more than 40 years, has died. He was 79.

He reportedly died in his sleep at his La Crescenta residence on Wednesday morning, though the cause was unclear. Recently, he had reportedly been fitted for a pacemaker due to a slow pulse.

"We were together for 40 years," said Crescenta Valley assistant coach Dennis Gossard, who became an assistant under Warnock in 1970. "He was a class individual and his No. 1 concern was always the kids.

"I talked to him Tuesday and he sounded great. We will miss him. The coaching profession will miss him."

Warnock piloted the Falcons to the CIF Southern Section Division AAA championship. He coached the Falcons from 1967-76 and 1979-84 before serving as an assistant for many years. Warnock and assistant coach Bill Irace co-coached the team on an interim basis for the final four weeks of the 2006 season. He began this season as the defensive backs coach despite having suffered an injury to his Achilles' heel during the summer.

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Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Paul Schilling said Warnock's daughter, Julia, found her father in his bed Wednesday morning.

"It's rare in coaching where you have people saying only good things about you," Schilling said. "I learned a lot from him and so did a lot of other people.

"We talked to the players at practice and we talked about doing something to honor him. We are going to try to have helmet stickers with his initials for the rest of the season."

Crescenta Valley quarterback Zac Wilkerson said the current cast of players shared several stories about Warnock.

"We reminisced about him before practice [Wednesday]," Wilkerson said. "We talked about how it's been an honor to play for him.

"He was always encouraging. He would want us to continue playing as hard as we can."

Warnock, who graduated from Stanford University in 1953 before serving five years in the United States Navy, coached football at different levels for more than 50 years. But it was at Crescenta Valley where he took over a program and made it one of the top teams in the area and region.

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