If the measure of a high-school football coach is tied to his wins and losses, Chuck Tarbox, the former coach at Juanita and Eastside Catholic, can measure up with the best the state has produced.
Tarbox, who died Thursday in Surprise, Ariz., at the age of 77, won 229 games, finished with a career winning percentage of .675 and won back-to-back state titles at Juanita in the mid-1980s. In 2000, The Seattle Times named him one of the state’s 10 greatest high-school coaches.
And if the measure of a high-school football coach is the influence he had on the lives of the people he coached, Tarbox stacks up there, too.
“I’ve been in the business world long enough, and a lot of what I learned goes back to the Chuck Tarbox attitude,” said Bob Waskom, a quarterback on Tarbox’s early Juanita teams who went on to play at Washington. “Having played for Don James for four years, I can tell you, those are the two most instrumental people I’ve been around. I look back in life, and there’s few people that I can look at and say, ‘That person made a difference in my life.’ And Chuck Tarbox did. I know he made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
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Tarbox took over a Juanita program that had lost 47 consecutive KingCo games when he arrived in 1980. He didn’t take long to instill the Rebels from Kirkland with discipline and confidence. Tarbox could be brash, and his teams reflected that, with confidence bordering on cockiness.
The Rebels won 26 consecutive games at one point in the 1980s, including winning state championships in 1984 and ’85. Tarbox nearly captured a third state title in ’86, but lost in the title game.
“We all thought we could never lose a game,” said Brian Knerr, who played for Tarbox on those title teams and also coached under him at Juanita and Eastside Catholic. “It wasn’t until I got out of high school really that I looked back and realized my junior and senior year I never lost a football game in high school. We were Bellevue before Bellevue. I never went into a game with losing crossing my mind because Chuck never let it cross our minds.”
Tarbox graduated from Queen Anne High School and UW.
After retiring from Juanita in 1990, Tarbox became coach at Eastside Catholic and took the Crusaders to the state playoffs in five of seven years, including an appearance in the state semifinals. He coached at Cleveland and Nathan Hale before going to Juanita.
His daughter, Mona Kidwell, said he had offers over the years to coach in college, but he liked working with high-school students.
“I still stay in contact with a lot of guys that played for him,” Knerr said, “and you still hear quotes or stories about Chuck.”
No official cause of death was available.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org