May 30, 2024
Former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman, who led O'Dowd to a state title in 2016, has been named Dublin's football coach.

DUBLIN — Napoleon Kaufman is back.

The former Raiders running back who led Bishop O’Dowd to state and section championships in his six seasons as head coach is returning to the sideline after a four-year absence.

He is taking over as the head coach at Dublin, replacing Brandon Black, who left this month to become the head coach at Granada.

Dublin announced the hiring on Friday.

Kaufman, a pastor, told the Bay Area News Group that he spent much of his time away from football leading his Livermore church through and out of the pandemic.

He added that Dublin is the perfect spot for him, a short drive from the church.

“I’ll tell you what, I am very, very excited about this particular job,” Kaufman said. “I’ve been away from the game for four years. Had to walk my church through COVID. I had told myself — this is crazy — is that there was only one job that I would ever want to coach, one school, and that was Dublin High.

“I’ve always liked that school and the people around there. It’s right there in the community where my church is. It’s a really easy commute. And I liked them. I liked their brand of ball. When it came open, I said, You know what? I started getting that itch. So here we are.”

During his run at O’Dowd, which ended after the 2019 season, Kaufman led the Dragons to 51 victories in 76 games.

His 2016 team finished 15-1 and captured 5-AA regional and state championships. In 2018, Kaufman guided O’Dowd to a 12-2 season that culminated with a victory over Marin Catholic in the North Coast Section Division II final.

“I’ve known Napoleon for years, from my time when I was mayor,” said Dublin athletic director Tim Sbranti, who served as mayor of the city from 2008 to 2014. “His church started in Dublin. We have a relationship that goes back. He has had kids from his church who have played at Dublin. He’s come to our games over the years. Has always been a supporter.

“One of our wrestling coaches goes to his church. Basically passed off the tip that, ‘Hey, if you reach out to Napoleon, he might be interested.’ It didn’t take me any time to make that call — someone of his stature and character and the success he’s had.”

Kaufman inherits a program that has been competitive.

In five years under Black, including the pandemic-shortened spring 2021 season, Dublin was 25-21. The Gaels made the section playoffs in fall 2021, losing to Campolindo in the first round, but did not qualify the past two years.

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Sbranti was asked what Kaufman brings to the program and where it can go under his leadership.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” Sbranti said. “I think somebody of his level, the staff that he’s going to bring in, instant credibility. Guys that have played in the league and the highest levels. It doesn’t get any better than that. He is an inspiring figure himself. He’ll really push our guys.

“He uses two words. He talks about love and accountability. He’s going to love on our guys and he’s going to hold them accountable. The combination of love and accountability I think is really going to just push us to a whole other level. We want to compete at the highest levels. We think bringing in someone like him will help us get there. We couldn’t be more excited.”