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SF Preps Football: Archbishop Riordan hires new head football coach in Mark Modeste

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Archbishop Riordan hired head football coach Mark Modeste on Feb. 27, 2019. (Courtesy / Archbishop Riordan Athletics)

On Wednesday morning, the Archbishop Riordan athletic department sent out a note to stakeholders informing them that the Crusaders will not only have a new football field this fall, but they now have a new head coach: Mark Modeste.

Modeste comes aboard after the former head coach, Jay’Sen Morris, took a job as the school’s athletic director following a 3-17 record as the Crusaders’ skipper. The team has gone 5-25 since a deep playoff run in 2015.

Modeste, who will be the first head coach to benefit from the $2.9 million athletic facility renovation that includes a new football field, is the son of former Riordan head coach Ron Modeste — who guided the Crusaders in the late 1950s, and introduced the “Victory Bell” to Riordan football.

During his interview, he told administrators: “I learned this game and how to teach it from some incredible men over the course of my life. It is my passion and calling to pass it on to others.”

A Bay Area native, Modeste (pronounced Mo-dest) spent nine years as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. While with the Gators, Modeste won five Central Coast Section Championships, two NorCal Championships and earned two trips to the state finals, all with a school that didn’t even have a football program until 1999. During his time there, he coached against WCAL teams, even knocking off Riordan’s 2015 team in the Central Coast Section championship.

“Coach Modeste has a great understanding of defense and a great ability to communicate with his players and coaches,” Sacred Heart Prep assistant coach Mark Fabbri said. “He engineered the game plan that enabled SHP to shut out Bellarmine in the CCS Open championship game in 2014.”

Most recently, Modeste served as a history teacher and the head football coach at Strake Jesuit in Houston, where he led his team to an 8-3 season in which the team ultimately lost in the playoffs to the eventual Texas State 6A Champions.

There is a lot for Modeste to work with, including the talent that will be hanging around, but it’s talent that will have to be developed, and quickly, in the right system.

Adham Abdelghani, who played dual-threat quarterback and wide receiver, is headed into his senior season. He’s long, athletic and potentially explosive in the right system. This season, he completed 58 of 152 passes for 992 yards with 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, but also rushed 65 times for 236 yards, and caught five balls for 49 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Azzan Ledbetter arrived midseason from junior varsity and showed flashes of deep-ball ability, and escapability. He went 38-of-95 for 482 passing yards, but had no touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Dynamic running back and kick returner Jalen Camp is also headed into his senior season, after rushing 115 times for 485 yards and four touchdowns, caught seven balls for 88 yards and returned two kickoffs for 38 yards.

Modeste will not only come into to a very promising crop of talent, but he’ll also be coming home. He grew up in the South Bay, where he played football at both St. Francis High School and Santa Clara University, and will be bringing his wife, Sara, and their five children back to his own roots.

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