The Knights have their man.
After searching far and wide for the next St. Joseph football coach, the Knights landed on a guy whose hometown is in the next county over.
Jose 'Pepe' Villaseñor was named named the 15th head football coach in St. Joseph history at a ceremony inside the school's library Thursday morning.
Villaseñor is a graduate of St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, where he was an All-State receiver for the Seraphs before graduating in 1997. Villaseñor caught a then record 111 passes his senior year in 1996.
Villaseñor then played college football for Ohio Wesleyan and has spent time as an offensive coordinator at his alma mater and more recently at Encino Crespi.
Villaseñor was welcomed by a large portion of the student body and school staff before classes began at St. Joseph Thursday morning. Villaseñor was joined by his wife Heidi, who is six months pregnant with the couple's child.
"We are very excited to raise a family here in Santa Maria," Villaseñor said. "Our family is very excited and we want to thank you all."
Family was a theme that ran throughout Villaseñor's introductory press conference.
"I'm going to push these young men to the limit," he said. "As much as I'm going to ask them to work, I'm going to work twice as hard. Most importantly, we're going to need you — the student body, the community, the administration — to make this a family environment. I want those sidelines to be packed, whether it's practice or a game. I want our GPAs to be up... I want everything that embodies St. Joseph to be exciting and contagious."
Villaseñor was inducted into St. Bonaventure's Hall of Fame in 2012. He helped the Seraphs win a CIF Southern Section title in 1996 as a player. Villaseñor returned to St. Bonaventure as an offensive coach in 2003 and helped the Seraphs to five league titles, four CIF-SS titles and two state titles.
Villaseñor then on went to join his high school coach Jon Mack at Crespi in 2010, to be the Celts' offensive coordinator. Villaseñor has also coached girls basketball and girls golf and taught Honors Spanish classes and even lived in Madrid, Spain for a spell while working in finance.
Now he's at St. Joseph, taking over a program that has made the quarterfinals in the CIF-SS playoffs the last four seasons, but will move into the Central Section and a new-look league this fall.
St. Joseph athletic director Tom Mott said the school received more than 60 applications when the job opening was announced.
"We had applicants from all over the country," Mott said. "Our committee went through all the applicants and whittled it down to six. We did our interviews about a week-and-a-half ago and we just couldn't be happier with the selection we made."
Mott said Villaseñor's coaching background was a big selling point, but not the only one.
"First and foremost, he's a guy that gets catholic schools," Mott said. "He's been at great catholic school programs and programs that we want to try and emulate. Just talking to guys he's worked with — coaches, administrators — it wasn't always about football, they just said he was a great guy. A great leader, a great mentor and a guy that's really going to take not just your football program, but the school to another level."
Mott said Villaseñor is still working at Crespi and will be moving up from Ventura, where he lives, to the Santa Maria area soon.
"He'll be coming up here to meet with the kids, meet with the coaching staff and finding out who is still interested in coaching and assembling his staff so that by the summer rolls around they're ready to go with the 7-on-7s and all that stuff," Mott said.
Villaseñor will be the third coach for the Knights in three seasons. Dustin Davis left St. Joseph for Arrowhead Christian after the 2016 season and Jim Chvala served as interim coach for the 2017 season, helping the Knights to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals.