SACRAMENTO - "Pacer 4 Life" is more than just a motto for Grant head football coach Mike Alberghini.
As the region's longest tenured football coach, Alberghini is entering his 46th season with Grant Union High School in Del Paso Heights where he's established a rich, winning tradition. This upcoming season will be his 23rd as the Pacers' head football coach.
As he enters another season at Grant, Alberghini still finds excitement for the new year. He's even dropped 47 pounds and said he's in the best shape of his life. His good health, love for the game and passion for the program is what keeps him going, and he admitted that he plans to continue to coach for years to come.
"There's something wrong with me," Alberghini said with a smile. "I still like it as much as I did 40 years ago."
Alberghini joked that he's older than the dirt at the high school, but he's responsible for building that Pacer pride and tradition, which continues to be a bright spot for the community.
Grant Pacers' coach Mike Alberghini on upcoming season News10/KXTV
The Pacers have had really young teams over the past three seasons; some might call that rebuilding, others have called it disappointing. Expectations soared coming off a three year stretch where the Pacers went 39-1.
After 2010, the team lost top tier players like Shaq Thompson, James Sample, Vei Moala and Puka Lopa. They went 8-4 in 2011, suffered a losing season in 2012 - finishing 5-6, then improved to 8-4 last season.
The community is ready for the program to soar again and Alberghini feels there's reason for excitement, as they welcome back 18 starters from last season, highlighted by running back and linebacker Deandre Whittington-Grays, offensive tackle Darrin Paulo, who at 6-foot-6 is garnering national attention, as well as quarterback Donovan Lackowski.
This season, Alberghini welcomes former Pacer and NFL safety Syd'Quan Thompson as his new defensive coordinator. He replaces longtime defensive mind and Athletic Director Reggie Harris, who moved to Florida to be with his family
"We feel like if we do what we're capable of, we're going to be one of the better teams this year," Alberghini said.
Follow Sean Cunningham on Twitter: @News10Sean