Although the Live Oak High football team didn’t end its season the way it wanted to—with a win—the Acorns have plenty to be proud of for what they accomplished this season. Despite a 20-0 loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Open Division III playoffs Saturday, No. 3 seed Live Oak finished 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Blossom Valley League’s Mount Hamilton Division, including a huge 34-14 victory over nemesis Oak Grove in the final league game.

It was the first time in Mike Gemo’s eight-year tenure as the coach that Live Oak was able to knock off the perennial power. 

“Beating Oak Grove is something the kids can remember, and I’ll never forget this team for beating Oak Grove,” Gemo said. “It was just an awesome year.”

The Acorns were undersized as usual, but that didn’t prevent them from excelling on the field. Behind dynamic quarterback Jonathan Singleton, Live Oak lit up the scoreboard. Against the No. 6 seed Fighting Irish (6-5), however, the Acorns never got in rhythm. Unable to hold their usual outdoor practices in the last two weeks due to the poor air quality—the lreason for Saturday’s game being rescheduled four times—and a tough Sacred Heart Cathedral defense, the Acorns were shut out, a shocking turn of events considering they entered the contest averaging just under 40 points per game. However, SHC played physical up front, was judicious in their blitzes and smothered the Live Oak receivers early and often. 

“They (SHC) played a great game, but we were missing our blocks and passes in crucial moments,” said Logan Wiemann, who was named the BVAL’s Mount Hamilton Division Offensive Linemen of the Year. “If we make a couple of those, the score might be different.”

A right guard and defensive tackle, Wiemann was a force defensively against SHC, producing several tackles and playing tough and physical. Wiemann is just a sophomore and fellow defensive tackle Brandon Castillo is a junior, meaning Live Oak will have two of their key defensive linemen returning next season. 

Live Oak will have to find someone who can ease the loss of graduating senior Singleton, who even on an off night completed 16-of-31 passes for 177 yards against SHC. 

“This team was led by a great quarterback who we’re going to miss tremendously,” Gemo said.

Wiemann epitomized the team’s never-say-die attitude, competing on every down and making plays all over the field. 

“We played our hearts out, and there is nothing more you can ask for,” he said. “This is like a family of brothers on this team, and our highlight was beating Oak Grove. It was a great game that we worked hard for together to win.”

Football is a no-excuses game; however, the fact that Live Oak was relegated to holding “practices” in the gym for the last couple of weeks didn’t help its cause against a tough SHC team. 

“We were kind of out of sync with this big break and not being able to do much,” Gemo said. “It just happened and everyone was in the same boat, and we weren’t able to overcome it. But everyone in the area had to deal with it—not just us.”

Live Oak literally came a foot or two short of winning a league championship, when it was stopped just short of the goal line as time expired in a 27-24 loss to eventual league champion Lincoln on Oct. 19. Had the Acorns won that game, they would’ve finished 6-1 in league and Lincoln 5-2. 

“This team exceeded our expectations as a coaching staff,” Gemo said. “Going 8-2 with this young of a group that did a really good job of competing, they should be proud of competing well. They played hard every game and never gave up.”

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