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Football Lakewood

PREVIEW: Lakewood vs. Laguna Hills, Football

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

After two weeks of dramatic games on the road, Lakewood returns to new John Ford Stadium tonight for its home opener against Laguna Hills. It is the Lancers’ first home game since the CIF Championship last year. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We learned we have to execute on offense, take care of the ball, and keep taking the ball away on defense early in games,” Lakewood coach Justin Utupo said of the close games.

Lakewood (1-1) came up with five interceptions in a 27-20 loss at Orange Vista, and used a pair of fumbles to score a late 14-7 win at San Dimas. Utupo said his defensive staff has done a great job of emphasizing forced turnovers by creating practice drills to that end.

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On offense, quarterbacks Kade Casillas and Valentino Saenz-Castruita have both played well and Utupo said they’ll both get time tonight.

Laguna Hills (2-0) has wins over Aliso Niguel and Santa Ana while holding their opponents to 13 points or less.

“They have a good front seven,” Utupo said of Laguna Hills’ defense. “They do a good job with timing up when they want to bring pressure. I think we have to force them to tackle on the perimeter and I think we’ll be okay offensively.”

Laguna Hills junior running back Ryan McKevitt has already rushed for 431 yards and five touchdowns. 

The Hawks rolled to a 23-7 win over Lakewood last year.

Football: Lakewood Wins Thriller At San Dimas
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.