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Antonio replaces Galloway as St. Vincent coach

After nearly four decades of coaching football at St. Vincent de Paul High school, Gary Galloway is being replaced, and he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m very excited,” Galloway said after it was announced that John Antonio would be the Mustang head coach next season. “I’m going to miss it (coaching football), but this is perfect timing. John is the perfect guy for St. Vincent. He is a great coach, and more importantly, a great person.”

Galloway will continue to coach baseball in the spring.

Galloway has coached St. Vincent football for 38 seasons. His teams have compiled a 214-145-1 record, won 12 league championships and four North Coast Section titles.

Galloway had discussed the possibility of Antonio taking over the St. Vincent program two years ago. Once St. Vincent officials interviewed Antonio, they agreed he was the man to replace the legendary coach.

“John Antonio is a true leader,” said St. Vincent Athletic Director Stan Switala. “He is a St. Vincent alumnus who played for and coached for Gary Galloway. He has coached at Piner and Casa Grande and runs a phenomenal youth football program.”

As head coach at Piner High School from 2011-2015, Antonio inherited a program that had not won more than two games in a year for more than a decade, and led it into the North Coast Section playoffs in just three seasons.

He also has coached at Casa Grande, Richmond and as an assistant for Galloway at St. Vincent, where he was the offensive coordinator.

“This is going to be a first-class program with great coaching, good attitudes and fantastic kids,” the new coach said.

“In our first year, we will make real progress toward our program objectives, enjoy success on the field and attract serious student/athletes,” Antonio said. “By the time our incoming freshmen are graduating seniors, we will be known as one of the elite programs in the area. Once again, local athletes will aspire to play for St. Vincent. We will be recognized for our hard work on the field, competing for NCS titles and ultimately a state championship.”

Antonio knows such lofty goals won’t be accomplished overnight or even in one season, but for him it is more than just winning football games.

“I know it won’t be an easy task, but it is a matter of pride for me to come back to where I went to school, where I played and where I coached for coach Galloway,” he said.

Antonio said he came away from his interview for the position with a feeling that the school administration shared his commitment.

“I felt like the athletic director and principal really understood the principle of football,” he said. “I sensed that they feel that sports are a big deal.

“I want people to feel that St. Vincent is a place to go for a good education and good athletic. I live in the community, I work in the community. I want parents to say: ‘I know him. He’s a good guy. I can trust him with my son.’ ”

Joe Murphy will return as one of Antonio’s coaches, but the new head coach will bring in a mostly new coaching staff.

Antonio was a standout athlete at St. Vincent, and a three-time all-league player in football and baseball. After St. Vincent he attended Santa Rosa Junior College and the San Francisco Police Academy. He currently serves as an officer with the Petaluma Police Department.

He and his wife, Kendra, live in Petaluma. His wife also is a St. Vincent High School graduate and now works as a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Loretto school in Novato.

The Antonios have two sons, Andrew, 11, and Connor, 6. Their father said he is looking forward to coaching them when they attend St. Vincent.

Switala said the school has renewed its commitment to 11-man football, but will move out of the North Central League I and play an independent schedule for two years.

“This new phase for our football teams offer a unique opportunity for our school to enjoy games in closer proximity to Petaluma. After two years, we expect to be in a new league, playing teams in southern Sonoma, Napa and/or Marin counties,” Switala said. “We are confident that coach Antonio will lead the resurgence of football at St. Vincent, an important piece of our strategy to build elite offerings across our athletic board.”