by Jonathan Hawthorne
After 113 career wins in 14 seasons as head football coach at Las Lomas, Doug Longero has decided to temporarily step down.
Longero told his team in a meeting at lunch on Wednesday that he had decided to take a year off to pursue a masters degree.
“I made promises to some people that I would finish my education to get a masters degree and I’ll be looking to do that,” said Longero. “And I’ve got some other things growing that are going on, but it was time for me to take a break because I’m overwhelmed.”
Longero will help oversee the transition next season, as Mike Downing will effectively become the next head coach.
“He’s very organized and very detailed,” said Longero. “He knows the way that we’ve always done things here. He’s been around the program for eight years.”
Downing was surprised and honored to be chosen as the replacement for the program.
“I’m excited by the challenge, but a little freaked out to be honest,” said Downing. “I want to not drop the ball, to continue with the program that he has established. I intend on running pretty much the same program.”
Although stepping down from the program, Longero will continue to be a P.E. teacher at Las Lomas. The Knights are coming off a 5-7 season that ended with a 21-14 loss to Rancho Cotate.
Longero said that his decision to leave the program was not related to the team’s season.
“It’s had nothing to do with how the team performed, or anything like that,” said Longero. “It’s just that, internally, it’s time for me to take a break.”
Dealing with the stress and time required to successfully run a football program has taken its toll.
“You manage it every year,” said Longero. “You’re going to have victories and defeats and competition.”
There is much speculation that Longero will pursue a coaching job at a higher level.
“I know that he’s a great coach and I know that he has a lot of contacts at different levels, and I know that he loves coaching at Las Lomas,” said Principal Matt Campbell. “I hope he does come back; but if he doesn’t, I’d understand. Right now, we are planning for one year.”
Longero has seen plenty of success over his tenure, with four NCS titles in his time at Las Lomas. Only twice has one of his teams missed the playoffs. He attributes his success to support from the community and his players.
“You’re only as good of a coach as the players that you have on the field, and I’ve had a lot of guys that really worked hard and inspired to be great people,” said Longero. “It’s been a remarkable run.”