East Grand Rapids football coach Casey Longo steps down

Casey Longo has spent all but one of the past 23 falls either playing or coaching football at East Grand Rapids High School.

Longo is now looking forward to his next role with the Pioneers, which is a fan.

“I’m excited to watch East games with my family this fall,” Longo said.

Longo announced Tuesday that he has resigned as EGR’s head coach after serving in the position for the past six seasons. He rolled up 44-22 overall record and guided the Pioneers to the playoffs five times, with this past fall being the exception when EGR finished 3-6. EGR was eliminated in the third round of the playoffs in 2019 and the fourth round in 2020, capturing district championships both seasons.

He played under Peter Stuursma and was an assistant with him until Stuursma accepted the head coaching position at Hope College in 2016. Longo was then hired to replace him.

“It was a challenging decision, but it’s time. It’s the best thing for my family and me,” Longo said. “I was talking with the kids, and I told them none of you kids were close to being born in 1999.

“I started playing there as a freshman in 1999. I graduated in 2003 and had one year off and then I moved back to town and was an assistant under Peter (Stuursma) my sophomore year in college.”

Longo and his wife have two children, Grayson, 5, and Simone, 4. Longo teaches middle school and high school special education at EGR.

“I want to thank Coach Longo for his contributions to the East Grand Rapids football program over the last 16 years,” EGR athletic director Chris Zylstra said. “Working with Coach Longo, I have witnessed his incredible commitment and dedication to our football program and our student-athletes. I know this decision has been challenging for Coach Longo because of his genuine care for our student-athletes and passion for East Grand Rapids as well as our football program.

“Coach Longo has been a role model for East Grand Rapids football players. Returning to East as an assistant coach and subsequently rising to the varsity head coach position has taken countless hours and tireless dedication. Although we are all sad to see Coach Longo step away from coaching, we want to recognize his decision to spend more time with his family.

“In the future, we would certainly welcome the opportunity for him to once again work with our student-athletes in whatever capacity best fits his and his family’s needs.”

Zylstra stated that EGR will immediately begin a search for its next coach. Longo said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of coaching in the future.

“I love football, I love working and teaching kids, so yes, when the time is right and it works out well and things are right for my family and I, I can see myself coaching again,” he said. “East Grand Rapids players, parents and community have been incredible, and I have built some really strong relationships with the players and coaches, and I have so many fond memories. You learn a ton, and I appreciate that. It was a blast. It was just a lot of fun and a great experience. I was blessed and fortunate to experience it.”

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