2009-06-19 / Sports

Martin takes over Pioneer football program

Coach spent two seasons with Calabasas, six at Royal
By Eliav Appelbaum eliav@theacorn.com

Lance Martin Lance Martin A former Highlander is now a Pioneer.

On Tuesday, Simi Valley High hired former Royal assistant Lance Martin to lead its varsity football team.

Martin, who spent the last two seasons as head coach for Calabasas, said the move was "bittersweet."

"These jobs are few and far between," Martin said. "Sometimes you have to jump on these things. That's what I had to do in this situation.

"It's tough to leave Calabasas. But this is a great opportunity here at Simi Valley."

Martin went 2-18 at Calabasas, helping the Coyotes snap a 44-game losing streak and win their first home game in six years.

The Thousand Oaks High and Cal Lutheran graduate spent six years as an offensive assistant coach at Royal, Simi Valley's crosstown rival.

Former Royal head coach Gene Uebelhardt said he didn't think Martin will experience any awkwardness now that he's coaching the Pioneers.

"It's not weird at all," said Uebelhardt, who coached the Highlanders for 21 seasons before stepping down after last season.

"It's a compliment to our program at Royal that the administrators at Simi Valley would have the insight into hiring a Royal coach to get their program turned around.

"I'm proud of Lance, and I'm glad he learned his stuff in our program," Uebelhardt said.

Martin, 37, replaced Todd Borowski, who guided the Pioneers for four seasons before accepting the athletic director position at Chaminade on July 1.

Simi Valley went 28 last season, 4-6 in 2007, 3-7 in '06 and 5-5 in '05.

In the 2005 campaign, SVHS began 5-0 before losing its last five games.

The Pioneers haven't made a postseason appearance since the early 1990s.

"I think we can build a positive foundation," Martin said.

SVHS athletic director Matt La Belle needed less than a month to fill the position after Borowski's resignation.

"I think he's bringing a breath of fresh air," La Belle said of Martin. "He's got a good master plan of making this a real good, productive situation.

"It's going to be tough this year because he's basically eight months behind schedule. Everyone knows and understands that. His main priority is getting the kids to become better people, students and football players. He's going to attain most of those goals right out of the shoot."

La Belle said a meeting with Martin and the players' parents was scheduled for Thursday night. The coach will lead his first practice Monday.

Uebelhardt said he will wish Martin well—just not against Royal.

"I hope he goes 9-1 every year," Uebelhardt said.

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