One of the most recognizable figures for one of the nation's most recognizable high school football programs is stepping away.
Raul Lara, who has coached 13 seasons at perennial national power Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
, announced Friday he is resigning from his duties as head coach.
According to gazettes.com
, Lara compiled a 142-30 record in his tenure – the second highest winning percentage in school history – with five Southern Section titles. Poly, which has produced more NFL players of any high school in the country, has won at least 10 games in all but three of Lara's seasons.
His teams did sustain a few bitter defeats in his tenure, including two CIF Bowl Games, both times to underdog Sac-Joaquin Section squads, losing in 2008 to Grant (Sacramento) 25-20
in the Open Division contest and last season to Granite Bay 21-20
in Division I.
Poly (11-2) finished this season with a 30-0 loss to visiting Mater Dei last week. They started the season No. 25 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings.
Lara worked off-campus throughout his tenure at a Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall. Known for his stout defenses and commitment to his players, Lara always told it like it was.
The pressure to win at Poly is great and it sometimes effected Lara he told Sacramento Bee staff writer and MaxPreps correspondent Joe Davidson
before the Jackrabbits' game with Granite Bay last season.
"Our alumni and fan base are really into this, and they can be supportive — but they can be cruel," Lara said. "I can understand some of it because we're used to the heat. I'd be in the stands, too, wondering what the heck is going on.
"That's my No. 1 thing — go ahead and criticize me, but not the kids. I get very upset with that. Back off. The fans, even some in the media, called us Paper Jackrabbits. We're not an NFL team. This is high school. These are teenagers. Relax, please.
"These are kids, and they're doing their best. They don't want to lose. We're playing great teams. It takes some teams a while to get going. But this is Poly and these are the expectations."More reaction later