COS football coach steps down

Travis Burkett coaching in a game against San Joaquin Delta College on Sept. 16, 2023. (Credit: Norma Foster / COS Athletics)

Travis Brukett walks away from role after leading the Giants for four seasons; Matt Mendonca replaces Burkett as the head coach after serving as the Giants’ defensive coordinator for two years

VISALIA – Travis Burkett has stepped down as the College of the Sequoias Giants Head Football Coach, ending his tenure after four successful seasons.

Burkett, who took over the reins in 2020 and stepped down on July 8, transformed the COS football program, leading the team to several notable victories and re-establishing its presence as a formidable contender in the Northern California Football Conference (NCFC). Under his leadership the Giants had seen a revival in both performance and community engagement under his leadership.

In a heartfelt statement, Burkett expressed his gratitude to the players, staff and the college administration. “The opportunity we have been entrusted with here since March 29, 2020 has been nothing short of transformational. Our family has deep roots in Central New York and my wife has a fantastic opportunity professionally back in Ithaca, a place we all consider home. It has been an honor and privilege to be one small part of the Orange and Blue here at COS and I am greatly looking forward to watching the program’s excellence continue. Our staff has been nothing short of inspirational. I am incredibly grateful to our leadership here at COS including President Brent Calvin and Athletic Director Brent Davis. Lastly, and most importantly, it has been all about the players for me, and everything we have ever done with the program has been to serve them.”

During his tenure, Burkett emphasized discipline, teamwork and community involvement. His approach not only improved the team’s on-field performance but also enhanced the overall student-athlete experience. Under his guidance the Giants have made three straight bowl appearances and were the 2023 Golden State Bowl Champions after beating Sierra College in last season’s finale. The COS Football Team has also earned over a 3.0 GPA, as a team, in each of the past two school years.

Athletic Director Brent Davis commended Burkett’s contributions, saying, “Travis Burkett has been more than just a coach; he has been a mentor, a leader and a friend. His impact on the lives of our student-athletes have been profound. We are grateful for his dedication and wish him the best as his family makes a move to the east coast.”

Burkett will be replaced at head coach by Tulare native, former COS football player and current COS coach Matt Mendonca, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons. Mendonca brings a wealth of experience to the head coaching position after coaching, teaching and working in the private sector in the Central Valley for over two decades.

“I am honored and excited to lead the football program at College of the Sequoias,” said Mendonca. “This institution has a rich tradition of athletic excellence, and I look forward to building upon that foundation. My goal is to develop not only skilled athletes but also well-rounded individuals who excel both on and off the field. We’re going to play an exciting brand of football on all three phases of the ball.”

Mendonca’s journey in football began as a standout linebacker at Tulare Union High School, then College of the Sequoias and finally Jamestown University where he earned accolades for his performance on the field before transitioning to coaching. He continued his education at Fresno Pacific University, earning a degree in business and later a master’s in physical education. Mendonca is employed as a full-time faculty member at COS.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Mendonca has also made a substantial impact at the high school level. As the Head Football Coach at Lindsay High School from 2015 to 2019, he garnered recognition as the East Sequoia League Coach of the Year in 2019. His leadership resulted in a record-setting number of school records and playoff qualifications, establishing Lindsay High School as a force in their league.

During Mendonca’s first tenure with the Giants, he was the Linebackers Coach, Special Teams Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator (2009-2013). Under his leadership, the Giants boasted impressive defensive statistics, including being amongst the top in Valley Conference in sacks and yards allowed per game. Mendonca was the recruiting coordinator at a time when COS was as talented as they have ever been, but more importantly he prided himself on helping the student-athletes move on to the next level. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of recruiting, helping develop and then ultimately helping young people move on to universities and/or with their careers,” said Mendonca.

We are thrilled to elevate Coach Mendonca as our new head football coach,” said Davis. “His proven track record and dedication to student-athlete recruitment, development and coaching make him the ideal leader for our football program. I love the fact that he is a former COS Student-Athlete and brings diverse job experience into this position. He’s worked in the public and private sector and he brings a unique perspective to the head coaching position. I am excited about the future of COS Football.”

COS opens the 2024 Football Season against perennial Northern California power, American River College, on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. at the COS Sequoias Stadium.

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