Banning High School has hired a familiar name as its new football coach. Octogenarian John Tyree was approved as the new coach at the July 28 Banning Unified School District board meeting. He replaces Pete Smolin, who resigned a few months ago and is now the coach at Valley View.
“He brings experience, obviously,” Banning athletic director Keith Chann said. “And he’s been able to rebuild programs wherever he’s been. He has the cache of a winning coach and will be someone the school and district and community can rally around.”
Tyree applied for the job through edjoin.org.
“I could not be more excited,” Tyree said. “I didn’t know if I’d get another job. But Banning had an open job and I was looking for one.”
Tyree is in his early 80s and formerly coached at Fontana and Fontana A.B. Miller high schools, among others. His efforts at Fontana — he was the coach immediately before Dick Bruich — launched the Steeler dynasty in the mid-1970s.
Tyree most recently was a head coach at Calexico High School but resigned after the 2019 season after four years.
The veteran coach was living in San Antonio, Texas but moved to Redlands last November. A proponent of the flexbone offense, he helped San Bernardino High coach Shawn Collins with the offense last spring at SBHS. The Cardinals went 2-1 in the abbreviated season and averaged 34 points per game.
Tyree won section titles at Imperial High School in 1973 and Pasadena Muir in 1989. He has 227 career victories.
His 1975 Fontana team defeated Redlands 18-13, snapping a 20-game losing streak to the Terriers — a feat Tyree called the most memorable of his career.
He was carried off the field following the victory.
He also led Fontana to a second-place finish in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs in 1976.
Since Fontana, Tyree has coached some small college and community college teams, along with stints at Ramona, Muir, Miller and Calexico high schools. At Calexico, he turned an 0-10 team in 2015 into a playoff qualifier (6-6) in one year.
He is upbeat about the Banning job.
“They have the best facilities I’ve ever had and good athletes,” he said. “We’re a little rough around the edges but there are a lot of skill kids, and we have a huge offensive line. We should be able to play with most people.”
Tyree, an off-campus coach, is hoping to add some assistants. Sam Aguilar, an assistant under Smolin, is currently Tyree’s only assistant.