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Lance Poole: COC's shutdown cornerback

Sophomore has seven interceptions through ten games

Posted: November 18, 2013 11:13 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2013 11:13 p.m.

College of the Canyons sophomore Lance Poole is one interception shy of tying the school's career record. He is an accounting major.

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“Lance Poole is the epitome of College of the Canyons football.”

You don’t have to take our word for it, because those words are COC head coach Ted Iacenda’s.

“He’s what we want all of our young players to aspire to,” says Iacenda of the sophomore defensive playmaker. “He’ll help the younger players line up where they’re supposed to, he’s such an asset — like a coach on the field.”

On the field, Poole has been historically dominant as a cornerback for the Cougars football team.

He’s tied the school’s single-season record for interceptions with seven.

He’s the leader of a secondary that has intercepted opposing quarterbacks 24 times in anchoring a Cougars defense that has emerged as one of the best in the state.

Poole has done virtually everything his team can ask of him and then some in 2013.

But there’s a reason why Poole has become the unofficial poster child of the COC football program, and it has as much to do with the man he’s become off the field as it does the beast he’s transformed into on it.

“I’m a student first, athlete second,” says Poole of his academic commitments. “We have a family business — my dad is the CEO of his own management company so I want to find my way to a degree in accounting and start working with him.”

Family commitments are important to Poole, who grew up in Moorpark and played his high school football there.

“My dad was an only son, didn’t have a father and had to support his sisters, so he got jobs to help his family,” Poole says. “My mother is from Mexico, and her brother came here and built his own garage. I feel like if they can do it, I can too. I get my motivation from knowing how hard they’ve worked.”

Poole needed whatever motivation he could get following his sophomore year of high school, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and missed his junior season as a result.

“I only played varsity my senior year,” Poole says. “Because junior year is the year scouts come out and decide who they are going to look at, it set me back not playing. I had a good senior season but my coach had no idea I wanted to keep on playing past high school so I didn’t get any help there — I was confused why I wasn’t getting any looks.”

Now opposing quarterbacks are giving Poole plenty of looks, and he’s making them pay for it.

“Who knows why these coordinators do what they do,” Iacenda says. “Maybe they think he’s a little undersized or something, but I thank them for targeting him, I hope they keep doing it.”

In addition to helping the Cougars to an 8-2 record this season, Poole is part of a movement that may assist Iacenda’s program-building for years to come.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back originally planned to attend Moorpark College, but ultimately chose COC because he was impressed with the school’s weight training and conditioning program.

Two years later, Poole is one of six former Moorpark Musketeers on the COC roster.

Of those six, Poole lives with four of them — running back Garrett Dibene, receiver Kenny Feyh, tight end Michael Mandic, and Poole’s understudy at cornerback, Corey Lee.

“He’s like my other brother, I’ve known him for a long time and I’m close with his family and everything,” says Feyh. “He’s pretty messy at home with his clothes, he’ll just lay them on the ground. But that’s the only thing he does that anyone can even have a problem with — there’s nothing bad about him, he’s just a really nice person.”

Because football culture is largely predicated on fraternal bonding, the benefits of Poole’s relationships with his teammates are obvious.

What’s more, the relationship between College of the Canyons and Moorpark-area talents may help increase COC’s ability to attract talent in pools outside of the Santa Clarita Valley.

But if Lance Poole is any proof, that development doesn’t necessarily mean the culture of the COC football program will change at all.

“To be a captain of this team is an honor,” Poole says. “The history of the captains that have been here, the alumni, the conference championships — to be a captain here is to get your name out. It’s a right of passage definitely.”

Now the only right of passage left in Poole’s football career is taking the next step and playing for a larger program.

Because of Poole’s dedication to academics, commitment to family and loved ones, and ball-hawking abilities on the field, it’s pretty hard to bet against him.

There are plenty of good football players in the world, but not enough venerable human beings.

Lance Poole is both, and the COC football team is a better family because of it.

ernie@signalscv.com

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