The Lincoln High School football team found its next coach.
Masaki Matsumoto told his team Friday at Hollywood Bernstein High School in Hollywood, California, that he was leaving to coach the Abes. The Lincoln position opened after Jon Kitna’s resignation.
Tacoma Public Schools athletic director Sam Reed confirmed Matsumoto’s hire on Saturday after the 2001 graduate of King’s High School was offered the position Friday afternoon.
“This is a big day for Lincoln and a big day for the city of Tacoma,” Lincoln principal Pat Erwin said. “He will build off of our successes and continue to develop young men of character.”
The Los Angeles Times first reported the story.
“I’m going back home,” Matsumoto told the Times.
Matsumoto takes over a Lincoln program coming off its second 3A state quarterfinal appearance in school history. But Lincoln was stunned almost three weeks ago when coach Jon Kitna, a 1991 Lincoln graduate and former Seattle Seahawks quarterback, resigned to accept an opening at Waxahachie High School near Dallas.
Kitna was Lincoln’s coach the past three years. His son, junior quarterback Jordan Kitna, leaves with him.
Matsumoto, named the Los Angeles Times coach of the year in 2013, spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Hollywood Bernstein.
Bernstein opened in 2008. It was 29-9 under Matsumoto after going 4-36 the previous four years and reached the semifinals of the Los Angeles City Section Division III playoffs each of the past two years.
But it was more than the win-loss record that propelled Matsumoto into the spotlight.
Matsumoto was highlighted in the Los Angeles Times after he in the summer of 2013 asked his players’ parents to write letters expressing how much they love and take pride in their sons. The parents turned the letters in to Matsumoto, who distributed them to each player in school’s gymnasium.
Players found quiet spots in the gym to read their letter. Matsumoto told the Times that for about the next 15 minutes he saw players sobbing wherever he looked.
Matsumoto said he got the idea from coach Tom Bainter of Bothell, which won the 4A state championship this past season.
Matsumoto was 7 when he and his mother moved from Japan to Shoreline. He graduated from King’s High School in 2001 and went on to be an all-conference running back at Trinity International University in Chicago.