Football Lakewood

Girls’ Flag Football Preview: Lakewood Lancers

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

The Lancers have the unique honor of being coached by Leilani Utupo, head football coach Justin Utupo’s wife. Leilani becomes the first woman to be the head coach of a Moore League football team, and she’s looking to get the Lancers on top quickly with a host of talented two-sport athletes.

“They’re learning the game quickly, they come out ready to play–we have 4.0 and above GPAs on this team and I love the bond they’re forming as athletes,” she said. 

Standouts for the Lancers include QBs Dionna Bradley and Karri Davis, as well as running back/safety Michea Wells. Skill players include Jazmin Briggs, Sasha Blackburn, Kennedy Martz, and Jaela Baker.

“It’s been a blessing to have support from admin, staff, and the Lakewood community,” said Utupo. “There’s a ton of people rallying behind the boys and girls football programs in the city of Lakewood and it’s truly an amazing community to be a part of.”

While she said she’s not prideful about being the first woman head coach of a league football team, she said she hopes she’s doing justice to her own mentors.

“I hope my presence on the field pays tribute to the mentors, coaches, teachers, and trailblazers who have influenced my path,” she said. “I’m humbled to get to carry on their legacy, and I hope that I can motivate other young women to be bold, confident, and break whatever glass ceiling may be standing in their way.”

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.