Former West Valley Coach Rod Ancheta Remembered for His Ability to Teach and Manage

With a Hall of Fame coaching career that accumulated over 400 career wins, Rod Ancheta could teach and manage any kind of game.

That may sound completely obvious, but that’s the first thing I thought of when the sad news arrived that Rod passed away late last week.

Coming to the eastside from Tyee High School in 1988, Rod started at West Valley a year after I came to Yakima and spent eight highly successful seasons with the Rams.

In those years, Rod produced 154 of his 418 career wins and guided West Valley to a runner-up finish in the 1996 Class AA state tournament.

That was a long time ago and the past feats I’ve witnessed have blurred more than they should, but thinking of Rod quickly brought to mind two games that illustrate his range.

Seasoned West Valley fans will always remember the 1990-91 team that was so offensively deep that Rod decided to go full two-platoon and race up and down the court like there was no tomorrow.

It was thrilling to watch but torture as a reporter trying to keep stats, especially on one unforgettable night when the Rams beat Eastmont 116-107 in overtime. There were 149 shots take in that game and it will always be used as a benchmark for what I can survive.

West Valley hit triple digits seven times that season, including a still-standing Valley record of 125.

Fast forward to the 1995-96 season when the Rams won 25 games and played for the AA state championship in Rod’s final year. Facing a top-ranked O’Dea team averaging 73 points a game, West Valley locked up the Irish in a slow, half-court semifinal and won 34-33 — which remains tied as the 3A tournament record for lowest winning score.

I also covered a few of Rod’s games at Tyee while working on the westside in the mid-1980s and he had a nice, soft-spoken way about him. Not too high, never too low — an ideal volume for a coach.

Chatting briefly with Rod’s wife, Beth, earlier this week, she talked about how much they enjoyed their time here. For me, it goes both ways — thanks for the memories Rod.

You can view comments and make your own on Rod’s online guestbook at

Vikings’ dynamic duo

That Selah quarterback Zak Donato and receiver Cameron Ditter have hooked up for seven touchdowns in the last three games is impressive enough.

But clutch timing sets this duo apart.

Four of the seven scores have given Selah the lead, including three in the fourth quarter.

After their back-to-back scores covering 56 and 55 yards in the final period against Ellensburg the week before. Donato and Ditter provided the final scoring in last Friday’s 17-13 victory at Toppenish.

Less than two minutes after the Wildcats forged ahead, Ditter hauled in an 11-yard Donato pass with 11:07 left and the defense did the rest to keep Selah unbeaten.

When Ditter was quarterback in the season opener, he ran for two touchdowns, the first of which gave Selah the lead for good in a wild 55-41 come-from-behind win over Lakeside.

• While the unbeaten Vikings have been getting it done on the field, the coaching staff got some statewide praise when head coach Scott Ditter earned Seattle Seahawks coach of the week honors following Selah’s win over Prosser. Each of the two coaches picked for the weekly recognition receives a $500 grant from the NFL for the school’s football program.

Sunfair Invite tidbits

• For those wary of the one-time climb up the terraces at Franklin Park, the Sunfair Invitational T-shirt had the ideal message: It’s a hill, get over it.

The shirts, designed by Sarah Stephenson of Ike’s booster club, were a big hit and sold out.

• Best line of the day came from Ellensburg’s Uhuru Hashimoto, who admits some of the injuries she’s dealt with from time to time are usually the result of dubious decisions: “Maybe you learn from your mistakes, but only after you make them four or five times.”

• Clarifying a glitch in team scoring, Eisenhower’s boys finished second behind Kamiakin with 24 points. The top three girls teams were all out-of-state — Eagle (18), Lincoln (24) and Boise (32).

• The final tally of Sunfair finishers, third-grade through varsity, was 1,521.

Mixing it up

Davis junior Shawn Abeyta, a Mat Classic medalist last season, made his first venture into Mixed Martial Arts last weekend in Yakima and came out a winner.

Fighting at 135 pounds and representing Yakima MMA, Abeyta earned a second-round TKO over Joe Grubbs from Spokane.

Abeyta, 16, faced the 19-year-old Grubbs after his original opponent withdrew.

Nothing like speed

It figures that Lyle-Wishram sophomore Brandon Montoya, the 2B state track champion at 100 and 200 meters last spring, would be making trouble in EWAC football this fall.

Montoya ran for 138 yards on just 11 carries and scored three TDs — and had 10 solo tackles on defense — to lead the Cougars to a 46-6 win at Dayton-Waitsburg last week. That earned him WIAA athlete of the week honors for 2B boys.

Montoya gained 154 yards, also on just 11 carries, the week before in an overtime loss at Kittitas-Thorp.

Lyle-Wishram, which has competed with as few as 13 players, will face White Swan on Friday for its fourth straight road game.

From the note file

Couple of impressive stats for Sunnyside football: The Grizzlies’ defense has allowed only 289 rushing yards — that’s an average of 57.8 a game — and the team has punted just seven times in five games.

• Two local teams are in this week’s Tacoma News Tribune state girls soccer poll — Selah at No. 4 in 2A and La Salle at No. 9 in 1A.

• It was an all-Spokane final in the Sheridan Volleyball Classic last weekend as Gonzaga Prep defeated Mead in three sets. Post Falls, Idaho beat Graham-Kapowsin for third place.