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There’s a change going on at Gadsden High School.  First-year head coach Dino Facio Jr is trying to shift the culture of his football program back to a winning tradition.

“One of our main goals was to compete and be in football games and put ourselves in the position to win those football games,” said the coach.  “This place hasn’t won in quite some time, even when I first started coaching here as well.  So, it’s just getting them to do a lot of the little things that put us in a position where we can compete and we can win.”

Facio is a Gadsden High School graduate himself and his positive attitude is infectious.  “We play in the toughest district in the state, there’s no secret about that.  Those teams can be beat and you just have to do the right things.  I truly believe that we can do that here.  We have the kids, we just have to get them to believe and do the small stuff.”

Gadsden hasn’t made the playoffs since 1972.  Facio is tapping into some of the school’s history to show the kids winning is possible.

“This is a seven-time state champion, people forget about that,” explained Facio. “Whether it was in the 50’s and late 70’s and 80’s, they’re still state champs.  They were one of the first teams to win back-to-back state titles (1961-62).  They were one of the first teams to win three straight titles in a row (1953-55). People have forgotten about that. I wanted to let these kids know that the same kids who grew up back then were able to win and do some great things and I want these kids to know that this place was Title Town at one point. It can be that again, you just have to put some work into it.  This place has been known for winning, it just hasn’t happened lately.  Our job is to put it back on that map and it takes time.”

To help reinforce that idea, Facio put up football signs designating the school’s football state championships on the press box at the Gadsden High School stadium.

“We wanted the kids to see they did it before.  It can happen again.  So, for us, we just put the stuff up so they can see that there’s state champions. The Field of Dreams showcases their stuff, why can’t we do ours?  This place has been known in the past, you learn from the past.  We’re not going to say ‘that’s all we’re going to live on’. We’re going to learn from it and we’re going to build off it.”

Facio will also be one of the first to admit it will take some time.  Gadsden is 1-7 this season and riding a 25-game district losing streak. They haven’t had a winning season since 2000.  The Panthers face Onate this week.


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