By: Jay Kidwell
Damon Tomeo has been named to lead the Knox Prairie Fire football program. As the 30th head football coach in the College's 117-year football history, he brings more than a decade of experience and a record of success.
Tomeo, who spent the past two seasons as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California, said the people attracted him to Knox. "There is inspiring leadership in athletic director Chad Eisele and President Teresa Amott. It's a great campus in a supportive community." Tomeo said he is looking forward to bringing his family to join the Knox and Galesburg communities.
Tomeo improved the Pomona-Pitzer football team's defensive unit in total defense, scoring defense, and passing defense in 2012. He also served an integral part in increasing the team's roster size last season to the largest in Pomona-Pitzer's recorded history. Under Tomeo's leadership, that school's team secured 11 early decision application commitments in 2012, the most in its history.
"We are excited about Damon. He brings a lot of energy to the position. He is an outstanding recruiter and he is someone our fans and alumni will really get behind," Eisele said. "I'm very confident he will bring success to our football program."
Prior to working on the coaching staff at Pomona-Pitzer, Tomeo was an assistant coach at Colorado State University – Pueblo, an NCAA Division II school. He was in charge of the safeties, kickers, and punters while also serving as the team's video coordinator. Tomeo helped develop a secondary unit in which all four starters earned all-conference honors, and his efforts led the conference in scoring defense, interceptions, sacks, red zone defense, and his punt unit finished first in net punting and first in kickoff coverage.
Coach Tomeo was the head football coach from 2006 to 2010 at Minnesota State University – Moorhead, where he coached two All-American and 32 all-conference players and his teams broke more than 40 school records. While there, he also raised over $50,000 to help remodel the locker rooms.
His 14-year coaching career has also included stints at California Lutheran University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Redlands.
After meeting with the team, Tomeo said the players are hungry to improve the program and he's excited to work with them.
Eisele said there were close to 200 applicants for the head football coach position at Knox. The applications were screened by a search committee comprised of nearly a dozen people. Five finalists came to campus for in-person interviews.
Tomeo earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology at Pomona College and was a four-year starting football player from 1995 to 1998 at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, which operate a joint athletic program. He received his master's degree in education administration from the University of Redlands.
Earlier this year, the Knox football program was the beneficiary of a $1.6 million gift from the estate of the late Vernon L. E. Stisser, Jr. Stisser was a 1962 Knox College graduate, a steadfast supporter of Knox College athletics, and a long-time trustee and donor to the College. The gift, which is endowed, will provide income annually in support of the football program in perpetuity. The football field at the Knosher Bowl was named Vernon Stisser Field in recognition of Stisser's generosity, which was announced by President Amott prior to the 2012 Homecoming game.
Knox's first full season of intercollegiate football was in 1895, and Knox recently played its 1000th football game, a 63-42 victory on November 3 over Lawrence University.
Tomeo begins his new duties at Knox on Friday.