JV FOOTBALL: Never Underestimate the Power of Coach Young

JV FOOTBALL: Never Underestimate the Power of Coach Young

Before games, in the stretching line, Coach Young would walk down and hug every single player telling them that they would do great and that he loved them. This would really make a connection between the player and Coach Young. Players know Coach Young was going out of his way to let us know he believed in us: #4 Evan Malmquist, Running Back/Line Backer

Covid can not stop the JV Football Dons, especially not with Greg Young leading this crew. In late August, Coach Young was asked about covid and football:   I believe they’ll never take their high school sport or high school for granted. Our J.V. team is really working hard and driven to improve and succeed.  In small part it’s maturity, just due to this time in their lives.  In my heart, I think the maturity comes from the fact that they’ve lost so much, over the last six months, they’ll never take anything for granted. For most of them, they’ve lost one-fourth of their sports careers. Going forward, they’ll work hard not only for themselves, but for each other. 

This is what undefeated looks like-Acalanes JV Football 2019

Last year’s JV went undefeated with a total of 343 Acalanes points (this is not a typo, 343 is the correct total) and 18 (this is not a typo, only 18 that’s it!) points for their opponents. Out of nine games, seven were shutouts under the leadership of Coach Young. Coach Young carries more than just a clipboard with him on the field. He carries an abundant amount of passion for his Dons. Just ask powerhouse Anthony Ortale, offensive tackle and defensive lineman, who was part of the 2019 undefeated team about Coach Young: I believe Coach Young goes above and beyond with us. He reaches out, ensures all of us that we are enjoying the sport while making sure we are passionate and working to the best of our ability. My favorite coaching quality is how much he cares. There are coaches that coach football, but Coach Young coaches football while caring for us and having passion while coaching us.

The Acalanes 2019 JV Football team, under the guidance of head coach Greg Young and coaching staff, finished off their season with a perfect 9-0 record this season. Many of these young men have been playing sports together since they were 7 or 8 years old, and have developed such a wonderful bond, and level of camaraderie, that would be tough to match on any team. Coach Young and the JV coaching staff has helped direct that bond to the level it is now. 

From top to bottom, Coach Burnsed has put together a rock solid staff on all three Dons football teams (Varsity, JV and Freshman). Regarding the J.V. staff with Coach Young gives praises to Randy Henderson, who has been on the Dons football coach squad for five years. Coach Young shares: Randy is not much of a self-promotor, he’s kind, smart, and I believe the most underrated coach on the staff. He has a keen and focused offensive mind, and should be a head coach! Coach Young and Coach Bill Fraser have known each other for nearly twenty years, and this is their fifth year coaching together. On the field, last year was Coach Fraser ’s first experience as the Defensive coordinator. In nine games, The Dons gave up gave up 18 points, including seven shut-outs. In five games, the Dons did not give up one point in league! Off the football field, Coach Fraser is a contributor to the Lamorinda community. Coach Fraser was a MOL football organizer and leader for years, and is now head coach of Dons Ladies Lacrosse.

“Coach Young and all the coaches are making it happen for Dons during this difficult time. We want our kids in school, Dons back on the football field, fans in stands, but for now I am so grateful for being together, working hard and being happy, that is important to all of us” said a JV football parent with a big smile under her mask.

Even though the Dons have not practiced together as a whole, Coach Young can see the big picture:  We’ve set a goal to be undefeated, perfect, and I believe this team loves the game of football, and each other so much, that they’ll compete to a level, they never would have achieved, if not there had been no pandemic.

You want your son to be coached by this man because your son will learn more about life from the inspiration of Coach Young.  Here is how Coach Young explains it in one word: Competitiveness.  Make no mistake, football is a war. Every play is a battle, and you are a warrior out there. In 10,000 years of genetic human history, villages were made up of hunters & gatherers. The best hunters are the Warriors. They represented the village, something battling for their freedoms, if not their lives. Football players are modern day warriors, representing Acalanes and  Lafayette. They may not be fighting for freedom, but they are fighting for respect, confidence and self-esteem, for themselves and their team.    In order to succeed in this arena, you better hate to lose. If you do lose, pick yourself up, and battle again. It truly is a microcosm of life, and a tremendous life lesson.    If you’re not competitive, or accept losing, you’re in the wrong sport! describes Coach Young.

Maybe the 2020 JV Dons have not put on their pads and their uniforms are not dirty yet…touchdown high fives and knocking down opponents are on hold for the moment. But for now, Coach Young and the JV staff are still making a difference for our Dons… Never underestimate Coach Young and his JV Football Dons!

Varsity Coach Burnsed: The Football Legend

Varsity Coach Burnsed: The Football Legend

In 2017 when Coach Burnsed joined the Dons family, AHS quarterback Robby Rowell (now a quarterback for the California Bears) stated, “Coach Burnsed is a legend around Lamorinda”.

When you have over 40 years of coaching football, you have a coach with knowledge, a level-headed approach and experience. Our Acalanes varsity coach has all that and more. Throw in other adjectives like passionate, focused, positive, friendly, approachable and cooler than ‘Joe Cool’ that is Floyd Burnsed.

There are many qualities that encapsulate Coach Burnsed, he is a calm but inspiring leader who can help us keep our heads straight in a crazy game, and focus on the task at hand, #14 Graham Oh, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Running Back & Middle Linebacker

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. Graham Oh has that figured out, as he takes down a Vintage Crusher.

A long-time Vallejo resident and football coach, Burnsed established himself as one of the top high school coaches in the nation by compiling a 154-62-2 record while winning 10 league championships and four North Coast Section championships. Burnsed was named Contra Costa County “Coach of the Year” three times, 1983 Champion “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 1996 “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 2019 “Coach of the Week”, and the North Coast Section “Coach of the Year” in 2000. He was inducted into the Miramonte Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

Absolutely-A LEGEND!

Last year in 2019, SF 49ers PREP selects Floyd Burnsed of Acalanes High School as the  Coach of the Week 

When the Friday Night Lights illuminate across 94549, everyone convenes at Acalanes for the event of the week, Varsity football! Burnsed and his Dons pour it all out on the field in an effort to prevail.  Don fans pack the stands to support and cheer on student-athletes. There’s a genuine love and desire to see the team and players do well.

 I knew Coach Burnsed believed in me when I got my first start of the season, #8 Brady Huchingson, 2019 & 2020 Quarterback

Acalanes hasn’t missed a beat with (then junior), now senior Brady Huchingson at quarterback in the 2019 season. After last year’s standout quarterback Nick Kresnak, a University of Washington baseball commit, opted not to return for his senior season, the Dons turned to Huchingson. He proved to be a quick study, having completed 67.3 percent of his passes this season while mastering the position.

Acalanes football has always been about building a solid foundation for a young person’s life, based on principles and experiences that can only be taught through the game. It’s about cultivating genuine relationships between players, coaches and a community of fans and that is what Coach Burnsed does so very well.

There’s nothing like Acalanes football!


But this year as covid dominates our lives, classrooms are quiet, hallways vacant, our football bleachers sit empty and the excitement of Fright Night Lights is put on hold as our community misses the blue magic on our football field. We asked Coach Burnsed what did you do last Friday night? I was watching two high school football games on ESPN, wishing that our players could’ve experienced the same thing. Yet, the covid pandemic  does not stop Burnsed’s  coaching or developing his Dons.  The pandemic  has taught Burnsed how important it is to have a strong, efficient varsity coaching staff:  We are in groups of 12 players and coaches have to stay with one group. It has been great to have a staff that is willing to put in the time to ensure our players have a great experience. I’ve also learned that we have to be able to cope, and live with, things that are beyond our control.



Our first Dons football game is four months away. The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, announced  in July a modified schedule for its sports due to the covid pandemic.  Coach Burnsed has taken advantage of this situation for better coaching with his staff, Burnsed shares, fortunately football is a sport in which a great deal of practice is spent in position groups.  We are able to really teach a lot of technique to each position. I think each player has benefited greatly from the practices and has been a great release for them with everything going on.

Coach Burnsed  goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the Dons  are prepared for Friday nights, with countless hours of film study and schematics instruction to simulate real-time game situations. Game knowledge and skills development is one of the essential parts of the game. Though the understanding of the game and expertise can be gathered through playing and observing skills developed through perseverance and arduous practice, and then Burnsed puts it all out on the field. What is happening in Burnsed’s head before the kick off?  I am thinking about the game plan, trying to anticipate how the game will unfold.  Our opening plays are scripted so I replay those in my mind a few times. The Dons might be on the field  for two hours every Friday night, but Burnsed is working with an around-the-clock effort.

My favorite Burnsed quote is “Hurry Hurry Hurry!” #5 Niko Cortessis, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Wide Receiver & Linebacker

Football is a highly competitive sport that requires a lot of physical and mental endurance. Niko Cortessis develops skills on and off the field with a competitive mindset. He is anxious to start the 2020-21 football season!

Many coaches serve as educators, mentors and more importantly, positive influences on many players, this is one of the strong attributes to Coach Burnsed. His vision in leading the program is to prepare athletes for the field, in the classroom, and as young adults. High school and football not only serve as learning experiences and opportunities to improve, they should also create enjoyable and memorable moments for each athlete. Coach Burnsed is proud of each young man who plays for the Dons. When asked what makes a great football player Burnsed replied, First of all, a good football player has to be coachable, believe in the system and care about his teammates.  After that, we look for dedication to the sport, athletic ability and his work ethic to become a better athlete.

Beat Campo Video: Acalanes took charge in every quarter of this game in 2019. Cougars struggled to catch the Dons, but could not. Don’s victory over the Cougars, 17- 7. Pregame planning shared by a Varsity player: My favorite pregame ritual that Coach Burnsed did for us is when he put together the video before our Campo game with a combination of graduated seniors and famous pro football players, motivating us to Beat Campo!

It’s a GREAT Day to be a DON!

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!


What a year it’s been. Surely not one that any of us had planned for or expected. As we slowly move towards reopening and getting back to some sort of new normal, it’s important to focus as much as possible on positive experiences for our young men.

The Acalanes coaches, Andy (Touchdown Club) and Jane (Sports Booster) have said, Acalanes has a long history of football excellence. This is not only reflected in the win/loss column, but more importantly in the way it has molded the incredible players who have come through the program over the years.

The truth is, there really is nothing like the camaraderie and brotherhood of football. Other sports try to replicate it, but there is nothing like suiting up on Friday night and going to battle with your brothers while your friends and family cheer you on. Football is an intense sport that requires dedication, toughness and most importantly teamwork. Every single player plays a critical role in the success of the team, from the first summer workout through the last game of the year.

So let’s be thankful for the opportunity that we may have taken for granted before, with the start of summer practice this week, and truly appreciate the joy it provides our boys during this time of uncertainty. As Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights said many times, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”.  Are you ready? Are you psyched? Then GO DONS!

Jeff Julian, Proud Acalanes Football Parent












A Varsity Dons Baseball Player was Once a Lafayette Little League Player

A Varsity Dons Baseball Player was Once a Lafayette Little League Player

Dons show up to share their Acalanes baseball stories to the future Dons

As we know the Varsity Baseball season had their spring sport season cut short by COVID-19, with  Seniors saddened to miss out on their last high school sports season. The 2020 Dons baseball season was guaranteed to be a golden season.     The Acalanes Dons were one of the deepest teams in the NCS during 2019 and that same depth carried over to 2020 with returning seven starters and four pitchers. This well balanced Dons team was ready to take on the world!   Senior and Varsity baseball player Tommy Thrasher shared with a group of little leaugers on Tuesday, that he was looking forward to this year’s baseball season until life was interrupted with COVID, “Having your last season of high school baseball stripped from you isn’t  easy.

Nick Kresnak, Tommy Thrasher, and Nick Bamont paid a surprise visit to the Lafayette Little League  12 year old All Star team sharing their baseball insight. The three started out  highlighting  their great times playing at  the Buckeye Fields in Lafayette Little League. They reminisced with smiles, their big moments in the field from  amazing hits to  big catches  to playing all stars to  visiting the snack shack for a chili dog or a box of Lemonheads.  

Bamont started out telling the group, “We did not know our last practice was to be the last time we would be together as a  team.  We thought it was going to be three weeks and then we would be back. That day was the last time we stood on the Acalanes field as a team”.  Yet, baseball is not over for them. These three seniors will be heading to different colleges to play baseball, yet before they take off it was time to give back to the community, where they grew up and learned  the fundamentals of baseball.   The 12  All Stars listened intensely to Kresnak, Bamont and Thrasher recounted  their  little league memories and enumerated their baseball knowledge.

Their  words of wisdom contained messages of always improve yourself,  work hard,  learn from your mistakes and support one another as a team.  All three graduates  added and often repeated their success was because of   their baseball coaches over the years.    Coach Hoover, Acalanes Varsity Coach has been the biggest  influence on the trio.  They echoed  his praises of   patience, honesty, sincerity, positive leadership and  baseball expertise. Baseball success  requires constant  strategizing and observation, Hoover gets that!   Hoover taught his players to not worry about the score, just  focus on doing your job on the field right and in doing that, great results will come.  This is something Dons baseball players will take with them to college and beyond. 

The Dons triad  drove the message home to the future Dons, the moment a baseball player starts to think they can’t get any better, they’ve lost. If you think you’re the best and never work to improve on your craft, somebody is out there who will surpass you. The future high school baseball players of the class of 2026 walked away with the message of never stop improving, work hard, have fun, and keep believing in yourself. 

Congrats to the Varsity Seniors of 2020

Nicolas Bamont
Will Easley
Logan Hurd 
Nick Kresnak
Luke Miles
Cole Murgia 
Kade Shipp
Tommy Thrasher 

Life’s a fastball, belt high,
Coming right down the middle.
Don’t stand there and let it go bye
Swing hard and aim for the stands!

The Baseball Song by Corey Smith

Three Dons Athletes Show Leadership off the Field – Go 24 Miles in 24 Hours for Acalanes Athletics

Three Dons Athletes Show Leadership off the Field – Go 24 Miles in 24 Hours for Acalanes Athletics

On a long weekend designed for rest and relaxation, Acalanes student-athletes Benjy Braunstein, Evan Malmquist and Rhett Skvarna had other plans.  In their words:

As sophomores at Acalanes, we find ourselves needing to burn off energy while our sports are cancelled. We are challenging ourselves to run one mile every hour, for 24 hours straight.  We are fundraising for the Acalanes Boosters program to ensure that our sports can get off on the right foot as soon as programming resumes.

The boys began the challenge at 7pm on Sunday evening, running intermittently throughout the night, and finishing strong at 6pm yesterday, exhausted but gratified.   Supported by friends and family, the effort has raised $2,633 so far to support Acalanes Boosters, which helps fund all athletic teams at our school. 

The initiative, thoughtfulness and follow-through displayed by Benjy, Evan and Rhett makes our Acalanes Community (which CANNOT be cancelled) proud.  It also once again supports the notion that, in the face of adversity, DONS SHOW UP.  

Great job guys!   Go Dons!

If you wish to contribute, please follow the link below:


Celebrate Acalanes Recruited Athletes May 19th 4:30pm

Celebrate Acalanes Recruited Athletes May 19th 4:30pm

Acalanes High School consistently produces top performing athletes, and Boosters would like to recognize those athletes that have been recruited to participate at the NCAA level. Due to current circumstances, we won’t be able to do this with an in person event this year, so Boosters will be hosting a virtual event on May 19th at 4:30pm via Zoom.

This year, over 22 Acalanes grads have been recruited to participate in athletics at Division I, II and III colleges. These colleges and universities include UCSB, San Diego State, Long Beach State, Stanford, Iowa State, Kansas State, Loyola Marymount and many others.

This is a great achievement by these athletes, and we hope you will join us to recognize their accomplishment on May 19th.

Please use this link to join the Zoom Webinar: Recruited Athlete Webinar Or, paste this URL into your browser: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89461663384?pwd=V2owd1NXZjR3Rkp0OE5tT2JSbUVIdz09

You can also check the Booster website homepage at www.acalanesboosters.com to find the Zoom link and more information about all the athletes.

Track vs Clayton Valley

This past Wednesday, March 4th, we hosted Clayton Valley Charter for our first home  Diablo Athletic League (DAL) dual meet. Due to some major unforeseen issues with the timer we hired, the meet ran exceptionally long and there are still a lot of corrections to be made with the results.  Huge thank you to everyone who volunteered and participated!

As it stands now, our boys team cruised to a 78-57 victory and the score on the Girls side is still being verified.  On the girls side, despite incredibly valiant efforts from Caroline Crossland and Nicole Frigon, who hopped in the 3200 late in the meet in an effort to swing the score, we fell 63-59 – a heartbreaking loss that could have been swung by only one event. Big shoutout to Nicole for rallying her teammates and also running an outstanding leg in the 4×400 relay only 15 minutes after competing in the 3200m.

Next week, we start a 2 week road trip at Las Lomas for DAL #2! 

Photo Links: Galley 1, Gallery 2

Full results are here, highlights below. There were a lot of great performances – so many that we have had to split hurdles and sprints into separate categories for the first time!


  • Portia Seymour and Gema Villafan-Perez both PR in the High Jump – Portia also wins the Triple Jump and currently ranks as the DAL #2 in High Jump
  • Owen McNamara polevaults to a DAL leading 13’10”
  • Scarlette McCullough returns to the pole vault, also posting a DAL leading mark
  • Marcela Wiznewska leads a squadron of her teammates to PRs in the Long Jump with a jump of 13’-10”
  • Devin Miniello PRs with a jump of 17’-5” in the Long Jump as well


  • Josh Ramlan hits 3 digits with a throw of 108’-5” in the discus – a PR of nearly 10 feet!
  • Ben Thistleton-Dyer and Brooke Blacklidge PR in both Shot and Disc
  • Led by Dane Jenssen, our varsity boys sweep the 100 meter dash
  • Freshman Eli Brent posts a huge PR of 11.53 (and DAL #4) in the 100
  • Freshmen Sarah Gohres and Rachel Pan PR and take 3rd in the Frosh-Soph Girls 100 and 200 respectively, leading all of their teammates to PRs- both run impressive relay legs in the 4×100 and 4×400 as well
  • In the 400, freshmen Jasmine Lattimer and Laura Selle both PR  
  • Freshman Bennett Dodge posts an impressive 52.52 in the Varsity Boys 400m


  • Senior Emily Sverak wins the 300m Hurdles with a DAL #1 time
  • The 3 sophomores Marshall Lockwood, Evan Malmquist, and Connor Spellman PR sweep the Varsity Boys 110 Meter Hurdles 
  • Sophomore Josh Gohres leads a trio of Frosh-Soph Boys 300m hurdlers 
  • Finally, senior Kevin Mlynek PRs in the Boys 300m hurdles with a time of 41.53 – a DAL #1 mark and a #7 Acalanes all time mark


  • Freshman Taylor Carlin debuts with an impressive time of 6:05 in the 1600
  • On the Boys side, freshman Dominic Sarica turns heads in his 3200 debut
  • Junior Megan Baginski PRs in the 1600
  • Dominic Basaldua and Tyler Hunt take 1st and 2nd in the Boys 800 – both PR!
  • Lauren Yee and Nicole Frigon cruise to easy victories in the Girls 800 AND the girls 1600!
  • Andrew Owens breaks the 5 minute barrier in the boys 1600


  • Rayce Walton anchors the Boys 4×400 with a huge PR
  • Freshman Carly Harriman runs a great leg on the Varsity Girls 4×400, giving our team a chance
  • Lauren Yee leaves it all on the track and nearly snags the win for our Girls team – she also splits an impressive 61 seconds

Girls Varsity Soccer Falls to Burlingame in CIF Regional Semifinals

Girls Varsity Soccer Falls to Burlingame in CIF Regional Semifinals

All good things must come to an end. The Varsity Girls Soccer team fought valiantly against a very well-coached team from Burlingame High School. The Dons had put their hearts and souls into the win against Branson less than one week ago to win the NCS Championship, and they simply ran out of gas. Battling injuries and illnesses, the Dons just couldn’t find a way to get on the scoreboard. Passes that were usually connected, weren’t. Shots that usually went in, were blocked. They lost 1-0. Every player was giving it their all, but they were spent. The sign of a true team is when each player is playing as hard as they can for their teammates…that was evident yesterday, but they fell short.

The Dons finished their historic season with a record of 18-6-3. They are the first Acalanes Girls Soccer team to win NCS. They made it as far as the CIF Regional Semifinals. Quite an accomplishment.

Wishing all of the seniors the best of luck in their next endeavors. The 15 seniors on this team are: Taylor Boren, Maile Broad, Kate Carter, Beth Daughters, Dylan Hagglund, Georgia Karas, Natasha Malinovsky, Ellie Meyer, Gabby Ortale, Eliza Parry, Olivia Pelligrini, Jordan Pratt, Elle Skvarna, Ivy Souza, and Keri Wendt. Each and every one of you made this team special.

Thank you to our head coach, Nick Barbarino, for turning this program around. You made this team a true family.

Thank you to all of the fans that showed up to support our Dons. It was a packed house yesterday!

Until next time…