Things are feeling familiar for Lakewood football this year. The Lancers added more alumni coaches in the offseason and got back into John Ford Stadium after a year of construction on the new facility.
Last year, Lakewood wasn’t able to play games on campus and went 3-7 overall and 3-3 in the Moore League while just narrowly missing the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Coach Justin Utupo and his coaches are taking full advantage of having a full uninterrupted off-season.
“We’ve already seen the difference coming together as players and coaches to really build that chemistry and establish that bond,” Utupo said.
The Lancers also know they don’t have as much time in August to prepare for the season.
Their first game is at home Aug. 19 against Orange Vista and then they’ll host San Dimas on Aug. 26. After visiting Laguna Hills on Sept. 2, Lakewood will visit Mayfair on Sept. 9 for the Milk Bucket rivalry game and their final non-league contest. The Lancers open the league schedule against Poly on Sept. 16.
“I think this schedule is a great way to prepare for league,” Utupo said.
Returning starters Zion Smith, Rahkeen Moore, Tyree McCowen and Brayden Downen have emerged as team leaders during off-season weight lifting and the 7-on-7 leagues.
Smith did a little bit of everything as a utility skill guy last year while Moore is an anchor on the defensive line, McCowen is ready to lead the linebacking corps and Downen is back under center for his second season as starting quarterback.
Lakewood’s newest coaches are alums Damon Lampkin and Vincent Hernandez. Lampkin is coming from Long Beach City College where he coached the receivers. He said he wants to instal a no-huddle offense to shake things up on that side of the ball.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good things going right now,” Lampkin said. “Utupo has been doing a great job and we’re just rolling with it. It’s like a snowball effect… I always wanted to come back and coach at Lakewood.”
“They’re Lakewood alums and they understand the importance of upholding our team and program to the highest standards,” Utupo said of his new coaches.