The Las Lomas Knights pulled out a tough win against the Acalanes Dons on Friday night. The Knights led the whole game, but they had to hold off a 4th quarter rally by the Dons to secure the 35-34 victory.
The Knights did a great job controlling the ball for the most of the game. Senior running back Frank Payne (#5) played a major role in the offensive production with 31 carries for 200 yards and two touchdowns. His big play ability helped the Knights get out to an early lead in the first half.
However, it was a battle all the way to the finish. The Knights were up by 14 points with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter, but the Dons started to gain momentum. They scored two back-to-back touchdowns in the last few minutes. After the second score, they decided to go for a 2-point conversion. However, the Knights defense had other plans with the help of Emmanuel Karnley. Karnley's instincts saved the day as he knocked down a pass in the corner of the end zone.
Longero has always loved the game of football and wanted to give back. He grew up in Milpitas and went to Milpitas High School where he played offensive lineman. After high school, he took his talents to Cal-State Hayward and finished at UC Davis.
The positive experience Longero had with his coaches played an important factor in his decision to become a coach. As soon as he graduated, he got into teaching and coaching. His first job was at Milpitas and then he became the head coach at Las Lomas. From 1999-2012, Longero had an impressive stint, winning 113 games along with 3 North Coast Section championships.
At one point, Longero decided to step down from his throne and just focus on teaching. However, his mindset changed after he met a kid in his freshmen PE class. His name was Isaiah Newell, and his dad passed away when he was in 8th grade. Coach Longero decided to help this young man because he could see the talent and potential in him. The meeting motivated him to get back into coaching so he took over as head coach again for Newell's sophomore year.
Before Longero took back over, the Knights went 1-19 in two seasons. It was tough for him to sit back and watch his program struggle. It was time for the culture to change, and coach Longero helped his student-athletes switch their mindset. "It's bigger than wins and losses… I want to help kids be the better versions of themselves," said Longero. The hard work put in during the off season resulted in an undefeated regular season during his second year back as head coach. His star pupil Newell rushed for 2,166 yards and 31 touchdowns during that season. Coach Longero strives to make a difference, and he continues to do so through his leadership on and off the field.
As our 49ers PREP Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week presented by U.S. Bank, Longero will receive a grant for the Las Lomas High School football program from the 49ers Foundation. Longero will be featured on the 49ers Cal-Hi Sports Report presented by U.S. Bank.
Congratulations, Coach Longero!