Note: I put in several calls and left a message with LC coach Dan Yoder but to no avail. I’ll try again later today and bring you the latest, I hope, in Wednesday’s paper.
It’s been nearly two months since Duarte High School named Lavelle “Tip” Sanders as the school’s football coach, replacing Wardell Crutchfield who was abruptly fired because the school wanted to go in a different direction. It hasn’t taken long but already Sanders faces the daunting task of regrouping a divided team. Four varsity players transfered out of the school because they were unhappy with the firing of Crutchfield, leading the Falcons last season to the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. That he’ll have to practically start from scratch has become a challenge. “From what I’m seeing it’s going to be a year we’ll rebuild completely,” he said. “They tell me some of the kids transferred but I’m looking forward to the challenges.” Duarte’s missing piece to the puzzle next seasonwill be standout running back Jordan Canada. He rushed for 1,956 yards and 19 touchdowns. “I don’t take it personal,” Sanders said. “I coached (Canada’s) dad and he worked with me. They said that was something they wanted to do. They said that it was a change they wanted to do.” Sanders revived the football programs at Blair and Marshall high schools previously. He currently works as security at Blair and coached the junior varsity program last season. He has not formally met the entire team just yet. “I met five guys they said played last year,” Sanders said. “Right now we’re in a weight program at 6:30 a.m. with four lineman.” There will be a football camp open to the public on Saturday at Durate from 9 a.m. to noon. “I’m hoping they all show up this Saturday,” Sanders said. “This is the official meeting before spring ball on May 15. I’m hoping that everybody comes out to the camp Saturday.” Sanders will target the middle school players at the camp. “If I’m going to start a program I’ll start at the bottom,” he said. “Seventh and eighth graders; I don’t think there’s too much I can do with juniors and seniors there already.” Including himself, Sanders will have a total of eight coaches in the program. Some coaches he’s kept from the previous coaching staff and others will be coming with Sanders. “Some of the coaches are willing to try it again so I’m going to give them a shot,” he said. “I kept four of them that came to the coach’s meeting.”