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Football Lakewood

PREVIEW: Lakewood vs. Orange Vista, Football

The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

Last season may have ended with Lakewood in a CIF Championship game, but that came well after the Lancers stumbled out of the gate and lost three of their first four non league games.

Coach Justin Utupo and his team will try to flip the script and start the season with a win for the first time since 2017 when Leuzinger had to forfeit. The Lancers last season opening win on the field came in 2012.

Lakewood will be on the road tonight to start its campaign at Orange Vista. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Orange Vista came to Lakewood last year and beat the Lancers 35-13 in their first game at new John Ford Stadium. The Coyotes went on to finish 9-2 and return the majority of their starters. Orange Vista is ranked as a top 100 team according to CalPreps.

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Senior linebacker Tyree McCowen and his defense will have to slow down the speedy Coyotes by limiting their big plays. Utupo said he knows that McCowen will set the tone this year. He is one of only a handful of returning starters on that side of the ball.

“We’re a young team but we’re coming along,” McCowen said. “As captain of the defense I have to hold my young guys accountable.”

McCowen was Top 5 in California last year in total tackles, and the defensive turnaround was key to Lakewood finishing last season in a championship game.

“Not having a title in the history of Lakewood football, it’s long overdue,” Utupo said. “Winning chip is the ultimate goal.”

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.