Mater Dei names Raul Lara as its new football coach

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Mater Dei has named former Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara as its new football coach effective immediately. Lara had been head coach at St. Anthony, where he briefly worked with Mater Dei President Michael Brennan. He won five Division 1 titles when he was head coach at Poly for 13 years.

By working out a deal with Lara, Brennan will be completing a clean break from the days of Bruce Rollinson, who took over the program in 1989 and ran it until his retirement in the fall of 2022 following controversy involving an alleged hazing incident in the program.

Frank McManus, a former Rollinson assistant, guided the team to Division 1 and state Open Division titles last year in his only season as head coach before being dismissed two weeks ago.

Lara was considered the favorite to land the job, but the delay in naming him raised questions . He’s ready to take over immediately and bring in his own staff since the Monarchs are supposed to begin spring football practice.

Lara was an assistant coach at Servite for Troy Thomas in the spring of 2021 during the COVID-19 season, his first experience with private school coaching. There are several members of the Mater Dei coaching staff he knows from his Servite days. And the fact he had a good relationship with Rollinson when Mater Dei and Poly used to face off should help him, Thomas said Thursday.

“It’s mutual respect,” Thomas said. “I would hope coach Lara would welcome coach Rollinson to practice.”

Brennan has made it clear he wants a head coach to teach his players lessons on and off the field. Lara has been a probation officer for years.

“His career as a coach and probation officer has always emphasized the importance of academic achievement, character development, and community involvement, along with athletic excellence,” Brennan said in a statement.

Thomas said he believes Lara will do “a good job as head coach.”

“He’s a strong, faithful guy, which is important,” he said.

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