Former coach to be inducted into Carson Hall of Fame
August 19, 2005
Even though Ed Jesse only had a run of four seasons as head football coach at Carson High School, he is remembered in many different ways by those who played for him.
Teacher … mentor … Intense … perfectionist … a coach who emphasized how important the mental approach was to football. Jesse is also remembered as a winner and champion who guided the Senators to the 2A state championship in 1964 and to the Northern 2A title game in 1963.
Tonight, Jesse will join former players Dan “Sonny” Allen, Rick Redican and Bob Frank as inductees into the Carson High Football Hall of Fame Boosters Football as part of the Adeles Dinner Dance. The festivities for Carson Football Boosters Club fund-raiser get under way at 6 p.m. at Adeles Restaurant.
Needless to say, the occasion will bring back many memories.
“If you got me, you got an old name,” Jesse said with a laugh.
Don’t let him kid you. There were plenty of good times packed into those four years at a time when Carson’s enrollment was well under 1,000 students and when rural schools were big rivals (the Reno/Sparks area had four schools at the time: Reno, Sparks, Wooster and Bishop Manogue).
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“We had some good games with Fallon and the games with Yerington were good, too,” he said.
Three years in a row, the Carson-Fallon games had state championship implications. Fallon won 7-6 in 1963. Carson won 14-7 to take the state title in ’64. And Fallon won a Northern showdown 20-7 in 1965 to earn a shot against Boulder City for the 1965 state title.
Butch Cattanach, a wide receiver for the Jesse-coached Senators, says those teams played intelligently, and they made the best of their talent.
“I’m sure there were teams that were better than us physically,” Cattanach said. “But we were always well coached, well disciplined and we played well fundamentally.
Bruce Glover, a senior on Carson’s state championship team, remembers Jesse as a thinking man’s coach.
“He always said a smart team could beat a dumb team, and he still believes it today. “There was always a rhyme or reason for everything he did. One of the things he always did … a lot of coaches would start off practice by having everyone put in 45 minutes of calisthenics, but he just had us stretch. He always wanted you to be fresh to learn; he wanted you to be able to think your way through it.
The importance of thinking on the field can be traced to his own playing days when Jesse was a quarterback at Washington High School in Milwaukee, Wis. – where he played for Lyle Blackburn, who later coached the Green Bay Packers. After graduating in 1948, he looked west and accepted a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Nevada, a decision motivated largely because another star quarterback from the Green Bay community, Stan Heath, had played for the Wolf Pack.
“Blackburn called (Nevada coach Joe) Sheeketski so I came out here to play,” said Jesse, who played as a freshman and sophomore quarterback for Sheeketski – who played football for Notre Dame in 1930-32.
Then when the Korean Conflict broke out he was drafted into the Army and served in an airborne unit at Ft. Benning, Ga. After the war, Jesse returned to Nevada in 1953 to a program that had been disbanded and only revived on a limited basis.
“When I got out of the service, I called up Jake Lawlor (Nevada coach and athletic director) and he said they were picking football up again,” Jesse said. “It was pretty limited. In ’53 , I think we had about a five-game schedule. We were just a group of guys who had just come out to play.”
After graduating from Nevada, Jesse became a government/history teacher and assistant football coach at Churchill County High School in 1956, then moved on to Pershing County High in Lovelock two years later. In four years at Lovelock, Jesse’s teams won two zone championships and lost in the state final once.
Then in 1962 came the opportunity to coach at Carson, where he inherited a program that had won state championships in 1955 and ’56 and had fallen one game short of playing for another title just a couple of years before.
“I had great kids, great athletes,” Jesse said. “I was fortunate because you need those.”
The coach believed in using schemes that fit the talent he had to work with.
“His greatest thing, I thought, was that he never had a set offense,” Glover said. “It would change from year to year. He’d change the offense to fit the talent. That was kind of Ed’s philosophy.”
One of the plays Jesse used to utilize the speed Carson had was to pitch the ball out to a back who had gone in motion – allowing that back to take the ball in full stride.
“He’d attack you on the flank by formation. He’d line up with an unbalanced line and then put a man in motion,” Cattanach said. “We weren’t big teams, but we had good team speed and he used that.”
Glover remembers that the offense looked complex. But it really wasn’t.
“People said it looked like we were running the option, but there was no option about it. It was pretty much a set play,” Glover said. “He was just a helluva coach. He was always putting something in new.”
However, the 1965 season marked the end of his career as a coach. He resigned his position, got out of education and went into real estate and gaming before retiring.
Jesse, now 73, lives in Reno and enjoys time with his family – five children (Rett, Ward, Kirk, Claire and Helaine) and four grandchildren, including grandson Ryan, who will play for Carson as a senior wide receiver and defensive back this fall and another grandson, Tyler, played for the Senators two years ago. He also still gets out to play some golf and tennis, and recently, Jesse got together with some of his former players and former assistant coach Bob Burns at a 40-year reunion.
Oh, yes, he still enjoys watching football on television. Watching football, mind you.
“The hype is different and the terminology is different, but the game is the same,” Jesse said. “I watch it on television sometimes, but I turn the sound down. I don’t want to hear what those guys say … it insults the intelligence when you listen to some of those guys try to prop up certain athletes.”
The game is the same as it was 40 years ago? Cattanach not only agrees with that assessment, he believes that Jesse is more than a coach from the 1950s and ’60s.
“Ed Jesse could have coached in any era,” Cattanach said. “I say that because he did all the little things that you have to do to be successful.
“Football really hasn’t changed that much over the years. It still comes down to how you execute the fundamentals of the game. He always drilled us on fundamentals; we’d drill it and drill it until we got it right. He always held us accountable. He’d tell us, if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to do it this way … you’ve got to do it the right way.”
Cattanach later worked as a teacher and coach at Carson and also coached football at Whittell and Dayton, and is still an assistant at Dayton.
“He was a mentor to me,” Cattanach said. “I’ve gone to him a bunch of times over the years for information.”
One of the stories Cattanach remembers was asking his former coach about the importance of weight lifting.
“We were all into weight lifting, but he told me that if it was that important, then you could put two guys up against each other face-to-face and one guy would say, ‘I bench press 300 pounds,’ then the other guy says, ‘I bench press 320 pounds’ – and that guy would win the game.”
“That’s the game. You beat us by 20 pounds,” Jesse chuckled when reminded of the story. “If you get 11 buffoons out there lifting weights, why bother to play the game.”
How often does a coach receive Hall of Fame-like recognition after spending just four years at a school? Then again, Jesse made an impact during his brief stay at Carson High.
“He made a huge impact, when you stop and think about it,” Glover said. “Not only did his teams play for championships his second, third and fourth years, he laid a foundation for teams that were good the next few years. He was just the greatest. But of course, I’m prejudist.”
Cattanach said it simply … “For all of us who played for him there will never be anybody better.”
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.
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