A successful young football coach is departing Long Beach, as Millikan’s Justin Utupo said Wednesday afternoon that he’s stepping down from a Rams program that he’d built up over the last three years.
“I have nothing but gratitude, I can’t thank Millikan enough,” said Utupo. “The administration having faith in me as a young 24 year-old coach, I have nothing but thanks and appreciation for them.”
The Rams were 1-9 in 2016, the year before Utupo became head coach. In his two seasons at the head of the program, Millikan has gone 17-6 with a 10-2 Moore League record, and a pair of playoff wins. It’s the most successful two-year stretch for the Rams since their CIF-SS championships in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“We very much appreciate everything he’s contributed in three years here, he’s done a tremendous job,” said Millikan boys’ athletic director Kevin Marchael. “He’s been great on the field and in connecting the community done together.”
Marchael said the Millikan administration will sit down to discuss next steps, with an announcement coming soon about how to proceed.
Utupo declined to go into specifics but said he’s been in communication with NCAA programs about his next career steps.
“Coaches move on,” he said. “I’m a first-year father, my daughter just turned one–I have mouths to feed and I have to think about my family.”
Before entering the coaching ranks, Utupo was a star linebacker at Lakewood and at the NCAA level at Notre Dame.
He led Lakewood to back-to-back CIF-SS semifinal appearances, and had 30 tackles, including three tackles for a loss for the Fighting Irish.