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Ex-CHS football coach remembered for drive & passion after tragic death
Matt Chachere killed
Former Ceres High School football head coach Matt Chachere was killed this past weekend in San Luis Obispo with girlfriend Jennifer Besser. Police believe they were hit and killed by a car while walking their dog. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo

Matt Chachere, head coach of Ceres High School’s football program from 2018-19, died at the age of 39 this past week in San Luis Obispo.

The bodies of Chachere, his girlfriend Jennifer Besser, 36, and their dog were found in a creek bed near the intersection of Sacramento Drive and Basil Lane on Nov. 22.

San Luis Obispo Police Department Detectives believe there’s a connection between the deaths of Chachere and Besser and a single vehicle accident that occurred in the same area on Nov. 21.

The driver of the car, a 24-year-old San Luis Obispo man who has been interviewed by authorities, reportedly struck a curb, a street sign and the abutment of the bridge in the 3400 block of Sacramento Drive. He was not suspected of alcohol impairment, a traffic collision report was completed, and his car was towed. Criminal charges will be determined based on the evidence and findings at the conclusion of the investigation.

Longtime Ceres High School football coach Brett Johnson was at school on Nov. 23 when he learned of Chachere’s tragic passing.

“I found out right before fifth period,” he said. “I didn’t want to believe it. It’s like getting punched in the gut. He was a nice guy. I feel for his family and his girlfriend’s family, and their friends. It’s just a sad ordeal.”

“I had a good talk with my class,” Johnson added. “We talked about being thankful for things and not taking anything for granted, your life or other peoples’ lives.”

Johnson served as defensive coordinator on Chachere’s coaching staff.

“It was his first head coaching job,” Johnson said. “He was very energetic. He was always upbeat. He was very focused on coaching. He was all business at practice. He had his expectations. He did the best he could with the opportunity.”

Felipe Martinez and Elias Saldana also spoke fondly of their former head coach.

Martinez and Saldana were team captains.

Saldana suited up for Chachere for two seasons.

“I got a text in the middle of the night,” Saldana said when asked how he found out about Chachere’s passing. “It was really sad to hear how it happened. That’s what makes it terrible. It’s tragic. He was a really good person. He was a welcoming coach. He was energetic. He was no nonsense. When you did well, your work was acknowledged. He gave you a boost of encouragement.”

Martinez played for Chachere senior year.

“I’m really at a loss of words for this,” said Martinez, who learned of Chachere’s death when contacted by the Courier. “This is crazy. He was a good guy. He was really humble. He was passionate about the game. His energy rubbed off on others. He made sure we were focused on the next goal or week. With him being younger and having a college background, it made us relate to him more.”

Chachere envisioned rebuilding Ceres High’s football program when he was hired in March of 2018.

“Being a head coach has always been a dream of mine,” Chachere once told the Courier. “It’s a perfect opportunity and situation. It’s going to take some time to turn the program around. It’s not going to happen in one year. Hopefully, down the road, the wins will come. My main philosophy is trying to shape the players into becoming productive members of society.”

Chachere’s stint as leader of the Bulldogs lasted two seasons.

Ceres High amassed a 1-19 record.

“They wanted to go in a different direction,” Chachere stated after he stepped down. “I have no ill feelings. I’m thankful for the opportunity they gave me to be a head coach for the first time.”

“I enjoyed being around the players and coaches,” he added. “It was a great learning experience. It’s definitely not going to be my last time being a coach. Hopefully, I catch on with another program. We’ll see what happens.”

Chachere faced a tall task when he inherited a Ceres High football program that had a 29-101 overall record from 2005-17. The Bulldogs’ last winning season came in 2004.

“I wanted the challenge,” Chachere said. “But it just didn’t work out. I wish them the best. I hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure who is taking over. Whoever comes in, it’s going to take time and patience. Four years would be ideal. There are going to be some growing pains. You get one winning season, you can use that as momentum.”

“He understood it was a rebuild process,” Martinez said. “I think he could have had more success if he had a couple more years at the school. He was a different type of coach. He tried to bring a college-style mindset when it came to football—whether it was for practice or our full schedule for game days. He switched up the way we weight trained. He was a good coach. He was really determined.”

“He wanted to make a change,” Saldana said. “He did the best he could.”

Chachere previously coached at Grace Davis, Beyer, Connecticut’s United States Coast Guard Academy, Princeton High School and San Luis Obispo High School.

Chachere was born in New Orleans.

He grew up in Cincinnati, where he graduated from Princeton High School in 2001.

Chachere played football at and graduated from Cal Poly (2001-05).

He totaled 106 tackles and 18 sacks in 27 games while contributing at defensive end/outside linebacker.

Chachere collected a career-high 65 tackles and 10 sacks during his final season with the Mustangs, who posted a 9-4 record, claimed a share of the Great West Football Conference title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. Cal Poly climbed to No. 6 in the national rankings.

Matt Chachere file
Matt Chachere, 39, coached varsity football at Ceres High School for two seasons (2018-19). - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo