El Monte High School finally has its man.
The Lions have hired Jesse Ceniceros to become their next varsity football head coach, ending an exhaustive that stalled often and cost the program valuable time in terms of offseason preparation for the upcoming season.
Ceniceros was most recently at Chino for two seasons and had stepped down from that position just days before accepting the El Monte position.
“It was a chance meeting, that’s what I could call it,” Ceniceros said of how he went from the Chino job to El Monte so quickly. “Hard to explain.”
Ceniceros made a name for himself with a successful eight-year run as head coach at Norwalk, a tenure that ended after the 2014 season. While at Norwalk, Ceniceros won a Suburban League championship, took the Lancers to a CIF final in 2013 and had three teams reach the semifinals.
Things were looking good at Chino, too, despite Ceniceros not being able to build the same coaching staff he had Norwalk either due to travel concerns or budget limitations. Still, Chino went 13-10 in Ceniceros’ two seasons, including 9-3 in his first year.
Now, the question is whether he can build on El Monte’s recent success and stabilize a program that’s had its share of coaching turnover in recent years. The Lions came alive toward the end of former head coach Joel Sanchez’s reign, winning a league championship in 2012 and a playoff game. Neither of which had been done at the school in decades.
Eric MacIntyre replaced Sanchez after the 2015 season and led the Lions to a 6-5 record last fall, but he and the school parted ways following just one season. That was in January and El Monte had very little interest in the open position, re-flying the job as recently as last week.
“After speaking with the administration there, it just felt right,” Ceniceros said. “I wasn’t expecting in a hundred years to get back into coaching after I just resigned (at Chino). Football is my life. Football has given me everything I have, my education, my job.”
Ceniceros wouldn’t say for sure whether he’ll be employing the Wing-T offense that his Norwalk teams used so effectively. But Ceniceros did say that several members of that coaching staff will be joining him at El Monte.
The first order of business for Ceniceros has been getting the team in the weight room. Most teams have already started spring practice. Ceniceros acknowledged that El Monte is a bit behind, but said that the team may have some Saturday practices soon to help get brought up to speed.