By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
Lakeside football coach Ryan David has stepped down from his post as leader of the Dragons this week to move on to pursue some other opportunities in South Carolina.
David ends a two-year stint as Lakeside’s coach, his first career head coaching job, with a 2-18 record.
The move, wasn’t something that David said he anticipated when the Dragons ended the 2012 season with a 1-9 record.
“I had every intention to come back to Lakeside,” he said. “They wanted me back, I wanted to come back, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunities I have ahead in South Carolina. I can’t disclose those opportunities right now until they become official and public.
“But I’m very excited to start this new chapter in my life.”
While his record doesn’t necessarily indicate having an overly successful tenure, given the level of competition David faced — eight playoff teams in his 20 games in charge — he was pleased with what he and his team accomplished.
“I was really happy with everything we did there,” he said. “When you play eight playoff teams in 20 games, it’s tough on the win-loss record. I was happy with everything we did and just what some of the coaches would say about our team after games to me and in the paper. You would hear how they felt we were well-coached and our kids played hard and didn’t give up.
“I had referee come up to me after the Madison game and said we had a classy team that played with class. That really stands out even though it didn’t show in the win-loss record.”
The toughest challenge David felt he faced while at Lakeside was battling in the difficult Premier Athletic Conference, which consistently churns out playoff teams on a yearly basis.
With the strength of that conference, in addition to the difficulty of the Dragons’ non-conference schedule — which included perennial powers such as Howland and Perry — was a challenge David felt his team shouldn’t have had to tackle.
“Well, my personal opinion is the PAC... and I’m just being completely honest — the PAC is a league that I don’t feel Lakeside has any business being in,” he said. “It’s just too hard on the kids.
“Physically, I don’t think it’s fair they have to play such a physical schedule every week and on top of that, we open up with Howland, who was in the playoffs the last two years and their tailback is going to Michigan and a wide receiver going to Ohio — that’s who you start off with.
“Then, you play Edgewood, which is such a rivalry game. You play Perry, with the resources they have, compared to what we have, it’s brutal.
“You get 10 meat grinders.”
With that said, the schedule did provide his fondest memory as coach of the Dragons — a Week 1 loss to Howland to start the 2012 campaign in which Lakeside was within striking distance for three quarters with a team most thought it couldn’t contend with.
“Probably the biggest thing that was a highlight for me was the first half of the Howland game,” he said. “That was the best half of football I’ve ever been around. Even playing and coaching in college, playing in high school, that was the best, most exciting first half I’ve been a part of.”
What made that half special for David was the energy that his players displayed against the playoff-bound Tigers.
“What makes it stand out was just how hard the kids played that first half and the excitement when we went into the locker room,” he said. “It showed us if you do these certain things, you can go toe to toe with anyone and it showed them, ‘Wow, what you told us really does work.’
“I think it helped their confidence and showed if we do play that could we go upset a Riverside or a Madison.”
Some of the areas David felt his team improved was creating turnovers, improved conditioning and limiting turnovers — the latter two plaguing Lakeside in recent years.
“Oh, we progressed tremendously this season,” he said. “We created 25 turnovers, I thought we played good special teams. Really got things going in the right directions in all phases. At the end of the year, when you saw the most penalties published, year in and year out, Lakeside was the most penalized, we were in the middle this year. So we really cut down on our penalties. As far as conditioning, the kids were in great shape.
“I think we only lost two kids to injury this season, that’s normal, our kids were in really good shape and they weren’t beat up after games. The conditioning program really worked and I’m very proud that we were able to put that in.”
With that in mind, David believes whoever inherits the Lakeside program is taking on a team that is on the rise.
“I think we took some steps forward and there’s a lot of good kids there, the program is going in the right direction,” he said. “It’s going to be tough playing in that PAC, but they’re good kids and they want to go out and compete. As a coach, that’s half the battle.
“I really enjoyed being the head coach at Lakeside. I had a lot of great relationships with a lot of great people. It was everything I thought it would be. I learned a lot and I’m really happy to have been given the opportunity.”