The San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award for week 9 goes to Mike Gemo (center of picture) from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA.
Coach Gemo’s Live Oak Acorns improved to 4 – 3 after winning 35 – 0 against a strong Santa Teresa Saints team. The Acorns are on a three game winning streak and are now first in their division. The win against the Saints came by way of an offensive attack that couldn’t be stopped and a defense that played lights out throughout the entire game.
The offense of the Acorns found their first score midway through the first quarter. Quarterback Jonny Singleton launched a ball to do it all player Jamie Martinez that put the Acorns inside the red zone. A few plays later, sophomore running back AJ Gustaveson found the end zone on a 10-yard run giving Coach Gemo’s team a 7 – 0 lead.
The defense of the Acorns made a stand on the following drive to give their offense a chance to pull away from the Saints early. Two minutes after scoring the first touchdown, Gustaveson scored another, this time coming on a 24-yard pass from Singleton, pushing the score to 14 – 0 in favor of the Acorns.
In the second quarter, Santa Teresa put themselves in position to cut into Live Oak’s lead when they made it into the red zone, but a missed field goal would give the ball back to Live Oak. The Acorns capitalized on this opportunity and drove the ball 80 yards and capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown run by Cole Davis that gave the Acorns a 21-point lead going into the half.
After halftime, Singleton added to his productive night when he threw another touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Guary giving the Acorns their final offensive score of the night and pushing the lead to 28 – 0.
The defense of the Acorns sealed this win in the third quarter when standout player Martinez intercepted a pass from the quarterback of the Saints. Martinez picked the pass off and ran it back 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Acorns a 35 – 0 lead.
“Jamie can do anything we need him to do on the field. He starts on both sides of the ball and has 15 touchdowns for us this season,” said Coach Gemo. “His pick six put the game away and allowed some of our younger guys to get experience.”
The running game of the Acorns saw 7 runners help the team rack up 221 rushing yards. The running game was led by sophomore AJ Gustaveson, who has had to pick up the load in the running game for Live Oak while starter Cole Davis is working to recover from an injury. Gustaveson picked up 91 yards on 13 carries and scored one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown. “We have been slowly getting him worked in as the starter,” said Coach Gemo. “AJ had over 2,000 yards rushing on the Junior Varsity team last year so he is used to carrying the load. He is a tough and runs well. He is starting to get his feet under him in this role.”
Senior running back Cole Davis, who has been working to fully recover from an injury he sustained earlier this season, contributed 7 rushes for 44 yards and one touchdown. “Cole is a returning starter and a captain for this team. A lot went through him at the beginning of the year before his injury. He is the type of kid who will do whatever he can for the team, even with limited carries.”
The offensive line is where Coach Gemo gives most of the credit to his team’s ability to have multiple players positively contribute to the rushing attack. “The line really gelled together at the start of the year,” said Coach Gemo. “We are balanced and we do a good job of being able to run on either side of the line. We’ve definitely found the right five guys who work for us.”
Quarterback Jonny Singleton was effective in the running game and passing game for the Acorns. Singleton completed six of his 12 passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns.
“Jonny does a good job for us. He does what we ask whether its throwing the ball 35 times or 12 times,” said Coach Gemo. “He understands that we work the run off of the pass and knows what we need out of him when we put the ball in his hands.”
Singleton was also able to generate 43 yards running the ball. “Jonny does a great job keeping plays alive with his feet. His ability to scramble keeps our drives going,” said Coach Gemo on his quarterback’s ability to run.
As impressive as the offense’s effort in this game was, it must be noted how impressive the defense was. The defense of the Acorns generated two interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown), two sacks that generated negative 19 yards, had two players who generated ten or more tackles, and held Santa Teresa to zero points all night.
“Our defense has really stepped up the last two and a half games. They are shutting down great teams with dynamic offenses. If you watch the film, there are 8 or 9 guys flying to the ball every play,” said Coach Gemo on his defense. “Mark Dean (Defensive Coordinator) is getting the guys to believe in the system he puts in every week.”
Coach Gemo noted that the players were a little extra motivated coming into this game as well. “The guys were excited. It was homecoming and after missing last week’s game because of the air quality they were itching to get back onto the field.”
After a rough start, Coach Gemo knew he needed to figure out a way to get his players to understand the bigger picture for the season so he brought in a secret weapon.
“The guys were a little rough at the beginning of the season. They didn’t know who they were and weren’t trusting each other,” said Coach Gemo. “I had an ex-player who is a Navy Seal come and talk to the players. Since he was here we have reeled off three straight wins and are in a position to win our division. They guys believe and trust each other and the coaches.”
After having his ex-player return, Coach Gemo has seen a definite change in the attitude of his players. “I’ve seen a lot of them holding themselves accountable. If someone is slacking, either on the field or in the classroom, they take it upon themselves to self-manage negative situations.”
When speaking on what drew him to coaching, Coach Gemo cited two reasons. “My former coaches at Chico State put me on his staff. I love being able to teach them. Another reason is that I love hearing from the guys who come back and tell me about their live and how I helped them from the lessons they learned playing football.” On winning the award, Coach Gemo said, “I have been able to meet Lucy, Charlie’s wife, several times. Sitting and talking with her and reading Charlie’s book have been inspiring to me. This award is a great honor for me, my staff and players, and Live Oak High School. It is great to be honored for the hard work and commitment everyone involved has put in.”
As our Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week, Mike Gemo will receive a $1,000 grant for the Live Oak High School football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of the award, he will also receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. Coach Gemo will also be invited to visit the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where head coach Kyle Shanahan will officially present him with his award. Coach Gemo will be featured on the 49ers Cal-Hi Sports Report on Sunday’s at 6 & 10 PM on NBC Sports and re-broadcast throughout the week.
Congratulations, Coach Gemo!