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Pro football legend who got his start playing on the South Coast, coaching on the Central Coast dies

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Johnny Williams
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A pro football legend who played high school foorball in Santa Barbara, and coached on the Central Coast on his way to the NFL has died.

Ernie Zampese was legendary for his insight into offensive strategy. He helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to the 1995 Super Bowl title.

A legendary pro football coordinator who started his career in the Tri-Counties has died.

Ernie Zampese was an offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles Rams. He was the play caller when Troy Aikman, and the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1995.

Zampese started as an all-star football player at Santa Barbara High School in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s, he coached at Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He spent a decade at San Diego State before beginning his pro coaching career.

There’s no word on the cause of death. It was announced by the Washington Commanders football team, which was the last place he worked. His son, Ken Zampese, is the team’s quarterback coach. Zampese was 86 years old.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.