Pictured from left: CHS lacrosse team Assistant Coach Erich Nieman, Will Shephard, Chris Becker and Head Coach Jim Longo at the June 13 Section III Senior Game played at West Genesee High School. (submitted by Ann Noble Shephard)
Cazenovia High School will have a new varsity boys lacrosse head coach in the spring of 2018.
Jim Longo, who guided the Lakers to both of its state championships earlier this decade, was told that he was not going to return to the sidelines next season in May, before the 2017 regular season ended.
“I was informed that I would not be asked to return as head coach of boys varsity lacrosse team at Cazenovia,” said Longo. “No reason was given and I didn’t ask.”
Cazenovia athletic director Mike Byrnes said that, while enjoying the time he spent working with Longo during his long tenure with the school, he simply wanted to send the program in a new direction under a new head coach that will be hired in the coming months.
Longo was one of the most successful coaches in Cazenovia athletic history. Five times, from 2011 to 2016, his Lakers won Section III Class C titles, advancing to the state finals on four of those occasions and winning state crowns in 2011 and 2013.
In 2017, despite massive graduation losses from the year before, the Lakers still won a sectional Class D playoff game over state-ranked Skaneateles before falling in the semifinals to Westhill.
Overall, in 12 seasons as head coach at Cazenovia, Longo’s teams accumulated a 192-58 record, winning nearly 77 percent of its games. Many of Longo’s players went on to success in the college ranks, too, including the brother tandem of Sean and Connor Cannizzaro, who led the University of Denver to the 2015 NCAA championship.
This is only the latest in a series of high-profile moves by local veteran high school lacrosse coaches. Fayetteville-Manlius coach Chris Kenneally retired at the end of this season, and West Genesee’s Mike Messere is planning to step down after the 2018 season.