St. Francis coach celebrates win over De La Salle after battling cancer

MOUNTAIN VIEW — You could not help but notice the St. Francis coach in the yellow shirt celebrating the epic victory over De La Salle on Friday night.

Matt Scharrenberg is the team’s defensive coordinator. During the abbreviated season last spring, he could not coach after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He returned this season after announcing in May that his illness had gone into remission.

“I was determined to live,” Scharrenberg said after the Lancers ended De La Salle’s 30-year unbeaten streak against regional opponents. “I was determined to become a father again, get back to my family, and coaching is part of the education, part of the ministry we do here at St. Francis.

“Those guys were never far from me. We tried to FaceTime. They texted me, the juniors that meant something to me. But this is where I belong, at this school, doing this job, invoking God to these kids.”

The Scharrenbergs are as much a part of St. Francis as the Calcagnos. Matt played football and basketball for the school in the mid-1990s, during the program’s dominance of the Central Coast Section in football and its most memorable victory in basketball.

He won a state basketball championship in 1995, his senior season, part of a squad that beat a Dominguez of Compton team that included future NBA star Tayshaun Prince.

Decades later, Scharrenberg was leading the defense for his brother-in-law, head coach Greg Calcagno, when St. Francis won a state championship in football.

“I’ve known him since he was 3 years old,” said Calcagno, who married Scharrenberg’s older sister. “It’s great to have him back with us. He does a fantastic job. He’s great for me and for our entire program. He works his tail off. Tonight is pretty special that that work paid off.”

Matt Scharrenberg, a coach on the St. Francis High football team who has been battling cancer, gets a hug from his sister after the team’s historic 31-28 upset of De La Salle, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Mountain View, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

When the game ended, Scharreberg made sure to soak it all in.

“This is up there,” he said. “We’re going to celebrate. Nice to have a bye week. I know the rest of Northern California is going to be licking their chops. What can that team do? Not to look too far ahead, but Nov. 6 or whatever, when we go up to San Mateo (to play Serra), that’s going to be a big game.

“But for our guys, for this moment, for our community, indescribable emotion and what it means for all the kids.”

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