BREAKING NEWS: Greg Gano resigns as Damien varsity football head coach

So much for Greg Gano and Damien High School being a match made in heaven.

After seasons at the school, Gano announced Sunday that he had resigned as varsity football head coach after four seasons. The announcement was made at the team’s banquet.

“It was just time and I wish Damien a lot of luck,” Gano said. “There’s some very good people at Damien, who I will have friendships with for a long time.

“I will be coaching again before you know it.”

Gano and Damien made a big splash in early 2009 when the school hired the four-time CIF champion coach to replace former head coach Scott Morrison. Things never got off the ground, however, and Gano went 20-22 in his four seasons, making the playoffs twice but failing to win a postseason game.

The Spartans had high expectations entering this past season thanks to a veteran team and a strong offseason showing on the summer passing circuit. Damien was trounced by Orange Lutheran in its season opener, won only one Sierra League game and missed the playoffs.

The job of finding a replacement now falls on interim principal Dr. Merritt Hemenway, who began working at the school on Oct. 8. Hemenway previously spent 19 years as principal at Bishop Amat and has expressed a desire to become Damien’s principal on a full-time basis.

The school announced Monday that it has began accepting applications and will do through Jan. 7. After that, Hemenway said that a hiring committee, of which he will be a part, will begin the vetting process.

“We have some real nice facilities here, now I need to find a coach,” Hemenway said Monday afternoon. “We’re looking for the right person for the right spot.

“There’s a lot of good people here and a lot of good kids, so I’m thinking it’s not going to be too difficult to put together a good program. And we’ve got a weight room that is the best I’ve ever seen at a high school. So, that’s a big attraction.”

Gano won four CIF championships at Los Altos before resigning after the 2007 season. Prior to that, he was head coach at Northview. During his time at Damien, Gano was instrumental in setting up the new weight room and the building of coaches offices and a team room.

The on-field product never caught fire, though, like most had hoped. A big part of Gano’s success at Los Altos was that he attracted several high-impact transfers, but that didn’t happen with nearly the same volume at Damien.

As this past season wore on, there was rampant speculation that this would be Gano’s final year on the Spartans’ sideline. Damien began league play with a costly loss to Ayala and later suffered blowout losses to league champion Charter Oak and runner-up Chino Hills. The Spartans did show a glimpse of what many had foreseen in summer by beating third-place South Hills.

Aram’s take: This is a pretty disappointing situation for both sides. When Gano was hired in 2009, it looked Damien was investing in the opportunity to take its program to the next level. For whatever reason, things never got off the ground. And now you have to wonder what’s next for both sides. There have been rumors of Tom Salter leaving Upland for Damien. I don’t buy it. There have also been rumors of former Chino coach John Monger being the next coach, and that seems more plausible because I had heard that’s who Sparty wanted before it realized Gano was available back in 2009. Then, there’s another rumor that Amat assistants Mike DiFiori and/or Ealar Gallagher would be interested in the job. This one should be very interesting … as for Gano, well you can bet he’s got his name in for the Etiwanda job along with about 50 others. Other spots in the OC are also a possibility. It appears to be a long shot that Gano would resurface in the SGV because there aren’t that many high-profile jobs and the ones that are taken with guys who justifiably aren’t budging. Should be interesting to see how fast both sides move.

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  • TheRealAyalaBulldogFan

    He was done after the Ayala loss.

  • Not So Fast My Friend

    I have to admit, I’m shocked. No mention of Matt Bechtel going to Damien? This past season, people had him tabbed to coach several different schools.

    • UCLAman

      Ever since the old priest left a few years ago Damien has gone down hill. That is one of the reasons Gano left. That priest took all the money with him. I heard they are having money problems over their. Next coach wont be getting Gano or Pasgeralla money. I doubt Bechtel will go to Damien for bargain basement money.

      • Not So Fast My Friend

        I’m not familiar with Damien or their program. If that’s the problem I wouldn’t coach there either.

    • Really?

      Why shocked? There are at least three or 4 other former Damien players that are in the mix for this job.

      • Not So Fast My Friend

        Did you not understand what I wrote? It was pretty clear, particularly the second sentence.

        • Really?

          Must be a family member.

          • Not So Fast My Friend

            Not really, “Really.” But nice try just the same.

  • Mike The Clone


    Glendora are you listening?


    • Colt74

      I’ve been hearing some talk that Pasquarella was considering going back to give the Tartans another shot.

  • Galileo

    don’t fool yourself GG will NOT get any high profile job in the near future…his arrogant demeanor and finger pointing doesn’t sit well with administrators

  • no-step

    They need a DC who understands defensive football. Damien gave up something like 30 ppg. That is NOT the fault of the players. It was the fault of the HC and the AD for putting Carroll at the DC spot.

    • UCLAman

      Old man AD made sure sonny boy got a job. Thats a reason Ganos goose was cooked this season and the reason the last principle left right after football season started.

      • 90’s Spartan

        I think you may be confused here, friend. The last principal did not leave the school because they changed the DC on the football team.

        I also think it’s important to remember that Gano’s hand-picked DC was the DC for his first 3 seasons and the defense was not any better.

  • I think what you’ll see is a committee of former players and alums and whatnot formed in order to try and find the right fit. Would not shock me if it was a “Damien guy” in the end.

    • UCLAman

      As long as old man AD is around, they will make the wrong choice. It will prob be a Damian guy, and Im sure it will be the worst choice. Arent their Damian guys already on the staff ready to take over?

      • 90’s Spartan

        I don’t think any of the guys on staff have HC experience. When Aram talks “Damien guys”, who does he mean? The only ones with HC experience I can think of are Morrison, Bechtel, Mitchell, Monger. I don’t know how available any of those guys are or what it would take to get them. Who else are we talking about here?

        • Rick Ward is out there. Don’t know if he’d want it. But there are guys.

          • Why Not

            Ward couldn’t run a program like La Puente what makes you think he can handle a program with the demands of Damien

          • 90’s Spartan

            Forgot about him Aram. Can you think of any others with HC experience?

      • Galileo

        prospective brain surgeon uclaman….it’s Damien HS…..I would guess you’re not too familiar with it.

    • Galileo

      once again you’ve confused younger brother Tom Salter with his brother Tim HC at Upland, Tommy is a better coach in my opinion

  • Chris Walker

    I remember back in 2009 when
    Gano took that Damien job. Aram was in love with Gano, the best of the best.
    Give him two maybe three years he will turn that program around. What happen

    I tell you what happen,
    exactly what Los Altos parents predicted, happen. Gano would recurit backup
    D1/D2 talent and would get his a@@ handed to him. Anyone could have won with
    Codie’s and Harwell’s at Los Altos, but it wasn’t going to be that easy at
    Damien. At Damien a coach is required to coach also, something Gano just doesn’t
    do a very good job of.

    Character is something Gano
    is lacking and that is the real reason he is gone. He had to fabercate a reason
    each year for his failures, so each year he continued to fire a piece of his
    coach staff to save his own a##. He eventually ran out of excuses, and the
    Damien administration showed him the door.

    Gano could end back at Wilson
    I heard they are looking for a baseball coach. He can get back his old job
    (haha). I heard Bassett is looking …….

  • checkingIn

    Saw absolutely NOTHING special about Gano in his four years at DHS. Play calling was horrendous, team discipline was non-existent, and the program was directionless. Gano brought in transfers that only made Damien appear suspicious to outsiders about where the players came from and why. Good-riddance Gano, thanks for nothing!!