Tengan steps
down as head
football coach

He will retain his duties as
basketball coach at Saint Louis

By Nick Abramo

Delbert Tengan said today he won't return as the Saint Louis football head coach this fall, but he will retain his duties as the Crusaders basketball coach.

"It was definitely a taxing decision for me," he said. "I know I will definitely miss it and maybe I'll miss it enough to be like Bill Parcells and come back to coaching football."

Tengan didn't pin his decision on one reason, but he did talk about the tiring nature of coaching two high-profile programs.

"I just felt like in order for our program to continue with the success it's had, I had to make a decision (and pick just one)," he said. "It's been overwhelming to be the head coach of two sports at this fine institution. It's kind of like coaching Notre Dame, but on a smaller scale. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Tengan said the school didn't put pressure on him to pick a sport and that he had the "luxury" to make his own choice to coach one or both.

He also said the decision was one of the toughest and painful he's ever had to make and that it took him a lot longer to make than he originally planned.

Athletic director Cal Lee said he'll begin his search for a successor.

Last year, Tengan took over for Lee (the winningest coach in Hawaii high school football history) and led the Crusaders to the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and state championships.

Prior to that, Tengan was an assistant to Lee for 14 seasons. He initially declined the head football job last year, but reconsidered after some friendly prodding by Lee.

"Delbert was fabulous as an assistant and did an excellent job as a head coach," Lee said. "We're sorry to see that he's not going to be coaching football. It's very demanding for anyone to coach two sports, so I can understand his reasoning."

Lee hasn't set a timetable for finding a replacement.

"We'll research it and find the best possible candidate to fit the program," he said.

In March, Tengan led the Crusaders basketball team to a second-place finish at the state tournament.

"We had a great run and were one step away from winning it all," he said. "I'll be looking forward to working with a good nucleus of kids coming back."

He said whoever takes over as football coach would also have a lot of talent to work with and the successor would be wise to retain as much of the Saint Louis staff as possible to ensure a smooth transition.

"What I'll miss most is the day-to-day interaction with the football players and the practices," Tengan said. "I'll miss installing the game plan and seeing how effective it turns out to be during the game."

Tengan said his fruitful ride through the fall and winter seasons was more arduous than others can imagine. Unlike some coaches who are done when the regular season is through, Tengan went all the way to the last game of the postseason in both sports.

"That really underscores the accomplishment of our basketball team," he said. "We started three weeks later than most teams -- and to have the majority of the kids playing basketball coming from football makes what we did that much more special."

And he'll never forget his one year as the Saint Louis football head coach.

"I was very fortunate to step into a program that has had a lot of success," Tengan said. "We were able to play the No. 1 team in the nation (a loss to De La Salle, Calif.), win an ILH championship and bring back a state title. There's a satisfaction that's definitely there."

Tengan even thinks University of Hawaii football coach June Jones is catching on to the basketball-football connection.

"With basketball players Tony Akpan and Ikaika Alama-Francis working out with the UH football team, maybe June is trying to follow a trend Saint Louis started," he said.

Saint Louis School


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