Former Arizona State University quarterback and Los Gatos High School alumnus Danny Sullivan will be the new head football coach for Palo Alto High School, two months after the resignation of former head coach Jake Halas.
Sullivan had a successful career playing Division I football at ASU from 2006-09 and won a Central Coast Section championship with Los Gatos in 2005.
Sullivan told the Paly Voice he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the Paly football program.
“Right now, I’m a first-time head coach and I’m doing it with a lot of passion and I’m having a lot of fun,” Sullivan said. “I’m trying to bring in a staff that all played, or most played, Division I football, and these coaches will be fairly young as well with a lot of energy.”
According to Sullivan, his goals for the team are different than what most people may expect. His focus for the upcoming season is on winning the De Anza league title rather than the CCS championship.
“The No. 1 goal is to win the league,” Sullivan said. “The reason I don’t say CCS is because the league title is between seven opponents and your goal as a team is to win those seven games at any cost. If you play one bad game, you still have a chance to win the title. In CCS however, if you play one bad game, you’re done.”
“The guy who recruited me, Mark Helfrich, is now the head coach of the Oregon University football program, and my head coach during my freshman year at ASU was Dirk Koetter, the current head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Sullivan said. “After Koetter was let go, he was replaced by Dennis Erickson, who is a two-time national champion and previous coach of the San Francisco 49ers. So all of that experience in those years while playing for all these coaches really started up my whole coaching career the moment I got back from ASU.”
Sullivan also praised Halas for developing a young team from two years into a title contender and hopes to continue improving week by week.
“I think now it’s about trying to build off of what was learned last year into a new style and philosophy,” Sullivan said. “Coach Halas did a really good job and they were getting better and better every week, and I think our goal now is to continue that especially in the off-season.”
Sullivan said he admires the Paly sports program’s ability to produce so many elite athletes that are now playing at the professional level.
“When you look at the past 15 years, its has been the best period of Palo Alto sports,” Sullivan said. “You start looking at guys like Davante Adams, who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, and Joc Pederson, who’s now playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think back to all those times coaching against those kids and now they’re doing way better things that I could ever imagine.”
As Sullivan looks towards meeting the players and parents in the offseason, he has nothing but excitement and aspirations for the team.
“I can’t wait to meet the players and parents and get a feel for what they want to do in terms of goals for themselves,” Sullivan said. “I know what I want this team to achieve, and I know what my coaching staff wants to do. Now its a matter of instilling the high expectations into the players.”