Things got a little emotional in Lakewood when beloved coach Thadd MacNeal left for Carlsbad, his alma mater, in the spring. MacNeal had built a mini powerhouse, raised expectations and, perhaps most notably, knocked off Long Beach Poly for the Moore League championship in 2009. He led the Lancers to a 45-15 mark in five years after replacing Mike Christensen.
Lakewood hired Vince Lobendahn, who had coached the defensive line for the last two years under MacNeal. Lobendahn's focus shifted quickly, from working on defensive schemes to keeping the staff intact.
"It got pretty emotional," Lobendahn said. "I had to find out if any of our coaches were going to stay. We tried to keep as many as possible and that became an issue. I had to hire a lot more than I thought I was going to need to."
Among the coaches Lobendahn brought on is Chad Manis, a former Utah linebacker and Cerritos College quarterback. He will aid offensive coordinator Zach LaMonda.
"I feel like the marriage there is really good," Lobendahn said. "Manis brings the ideal from those successful Los Alamitos teams."
Lakewood's offense must replace leading rushers Rashad Wadood (Arizona State) and Allie Long, tight ends Todd Barr (California) and Dupree Jordan-Roberts (UNLV), and quarterback Tyler Schultz.
The Lancers do boast one of the better receiver tandems in Darius Powe and Malik Gilmore.