The investigation of Mountain View's football program was felt far outside the confines of the team. The allegations of physical, mental and verbal abuse against former coach Bernie Busken divided what always had been a tightly knit community into two camps, pitting Busken's supporters against his detractors, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend.
But one year after Busken's dismissal, key leaders in the community say the Toro family has mended its rifts and put the past to rest.
"People out here are not the kind of people to hold grudges," said Don Bogle, who had four sons play for Mountain View between 1986 and ’96. "Time marches on. Thank goodness people forget and forgive."
Bob Heap believes the rift in the community was over-emphasized in the media.
"It was such a small minority of people involved with that whole thing," said Heap, whose son, Todd, played for the Toros' 1996 and ’97 state championship teams and now plays for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. "I haven't talked to anybody about it for months. I think we're way past that."
Heap admits there was some trepidation in the community when Tom Joseph took over as coach. Busken had a well-earned reputation as a winner, having led the Toros to an 82-9 record and three state championships in his seven-year reign.
But after watching Joseph win over the players and lead the Toros to the state championship in 2002, Heap believes most people set aside their grudges and accepted Joseph.
"It's all about the kids here. It's not about us adults," Heap said. "Tom's a good guy and a good coach. It's not going to be the same as before. It never is. But if the kids still work hard and play hard — and they are doing that under Tom — everything will be fine."
Scott Perkinson witnessed the community's acceptance of Joseph firsthand at the Mountain View booster club's golf tournament this spring.
"Tom was out there there giving away T-shirts and introducing himself and everyone really seemed to like the guy," said Perkinson, who helps run the booster club. "He looked at me and said, ‘This is great, but next year I'm golfing.' And I said, ‘I think everybody would like that, Tom.’ ’’
Perkinson said he has come to appreciate Joseph's approach.
"The feeling around this community is completely different than it was a year ago and it's all for the good," Perkinson said. "Tom may not always be the greatest communicator. In fact, I don't think he's a big talker, but he's such a decent man and when you look at the way he treats the kids . . .
"I told him, ‘If you keep treating the kids the way you do, you're going to win more state championships than you ever dreamed of.’ ’’