2021 vacavillefootball.com TEAMS SCHEDULE HISTORY EVENTS SCHOOL SPIRIT STUDENT ATHLETES/PARENTS CONTACTS ARCHIVES September 26, 2008 Sacramento Bee  Joe Davidson  The prep sporting world - and education in general - lost a golden leader  today.  Tom Zunino, affectionately known as "Z" after a snarling and storied football coaching career at Vacaville High School, died after a lengthy  battle with cancer. He was 71.   Zunino was as loyal to his program and driven to succeed as he was  stout and sturdy. He was the epitome of a football coach, a throw back  in every since: Hard boiled, gritty and a believer that fundamentals, a  running game and defense produces a winner. He was also a charmer  deep down, a favorite for players who years after competing for him  would stop by his coaching office or his home for a visit.   Zunino steered the Bulldogs for 37 years, and he was the athletic  director for 35. He was the head coach from 1961 to 1997, and his teams  posted 26 winning seasons, 14 conference championships and 215  victories.   Vacaville's field was named after him several years ago, and he  cracked, "I thought you had to be great to get that sort of honor." My  good friends Matt Mills and Tim Roe would often say that a big part of  the appeal to watching a Bulldogs game over the years was to catch  "Z" in action.  Zunino was dusted off and coaxed out of retirement by Vacaville coach  Mike Papadopoulos earlier this decade, and "Z's" defense was paramount  in beating Elk Grove in the 2007 City Championship, thus paving the way  to the team's first Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and a  13-1 season.  After that City title triumph against the 12-0 Thundering Herd, Bulldogs  players hailed "Z" as the X-factor for their success. Typical old coach,  rubbing his sore back, he downplayed it, telling me, "Ahhh, these kids.  They're the real winners."  No, coach. In the end, you were the ultimate winner. Posted by Joe Davidson 9:13 PM |  I can't tell you how much I learned from Coach Z. He was a class act, a leader, a mentor, and an example to us all on how to live your life. So much of how I am now can be traced to my time with him and his incredible coaching staff at Vacaville High School. He was a truly dedicated family man, and invited his players into his family. I will never forget Coach Z and the lessons he taught us that apply to our lives years after our playing days are over. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to spend time around Coach Z and the family of coaches that he put together. Mrs. Z and Karen I want you both to know that I will never forget "Z", and will always cherish the time I had with him at Vacaville High School.
COACH ‘Z’: a legend for the ages