Laton High School mourns death of football coach

FRESNO, Calif.

Mike Caballero, 28, coached the JV team at Laton High School. He died Monday inside his home, just hours before practice. The cause of his death is unknown.

Mike Caballero's sudden death Monday has really impacted the entire Laton community. He coached football at Laton High School for about four years. Friday, the varsity team dedicated this game in his honor.

Laton High School's varsity football team made its entrance onto Strathmore's field Friday holding number 54, JV Coach Mike Caballero's former high school jersey.

Francisco Rivas said, "We know that like Mike is looking down on us from heaven you know and he's like pushing us through so we can like win and we're doing this for him."

Minutes later ... fans, coaches and players bowed their heads in a moment of silence. Most of these players have known Caballero since their freshman year. Not only as their coach ... but as their friend.

Yonathan Barajas said, "He made time for us; he made time for his family. He made time for his job and everything."

Caballero died while resting inside his Laton home Monday just hours before he was supposed to report to varsity practice.

Ryan Lewis is Laton's Varsity coach. He and Caballero grew up together and both graduated from Laton High School in 2000 before returning to coach football.

Ryan lewis said, "We're there 6 to 8 months a year, you know. It's a big loss to the community because a lot of kids cared for him and it's a shock to the community."

With posters behind the Laton bench and helmets now permanently adorned with the letter "M" for Mike ... players say Caballero will always be with them on the field.

It's a comforting gesture to his wife Jammie, who says that's exactly what her husband would have wanted.

Jammie Caballero said, "It just makes me so proud that he was so loved by the community and by all of these players. He loved them with all of his heart."

Coach Caballero will be buried on Tuesday morning in Hanford.

His wife says, in lieu of flowers, she would like people to donate money to the Laton High School Football program.

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