12 Lancer Athletes Celebrated at National Signing Day Ceremony
February 2, 2022, marked the second National Signing Day in the 2021-22 academic year, and Orange Lutheran High School honored 13 of their senior athletes who committed to college athletics across three sports.
The Ellwein Center played host to the midday ceremony where friends and families gathered to celebrate the students as they take the next steps in their academic and athletic journeys.
“Congratulations to all 13 of you,” said Orange Lutheran Athletic Director, Vince Brown. “You have dedicated yourselves to being the best you can be. Today you join the ranks of many legendary Lancers that have come before you. Take the time to thank your parents; thank your coaches; thank your teammates. And thank your teachers and those mentors on campus that have helped bring you forward.
“To the parents, you have poured yourselves into your children. Continue to enjoy the experience you have with your child as they move forward to the next level.”
Men’s Water Polo
OLu boys water polo head coach Nestor Nuñez kicked off the ceremony by recognizing four-year varsity player Reed Pantaleon who will play for California State University Long Beach. Pantaleon made an immediate impact beginning his freshman year and has grown as a player and a leader.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Nuñez. “His tenacity and diligence would spark the guys at practice. Some of my favorite moments with Reed were watching him develop his leadership skills. That resonates throughout our entire program, all because of the initiative that Reed took as he got older. I’m really excited to watch Reed play at the next level. I’m really proud of his athletic career here at Orange Lutheran. I think Cal State Long Beach is an excellent fit for him, and I think we’re going to see nothing but great things from him.”
Pantaleon credited the many coaches from across his playing career who have been instrumental in helping him achieve his athletic goals.
“I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for always supporting me and being my biggest fans,” said Pantaleon. “I would like to thank my God for blessing me with opportunity at OLu. I also thank my OLu coaches Nestor Nuñez, Steve Carrera, Garret Glore, Jake Snyder and Kellyn Carlson. I thank the coach that first believed in me Zack Kappos. I look forward to pursuing my dreams of high-level water polo at CSULB.”
Two Lancers from the girls volleyball program made their commitments to play at the collegiate level.
Two-time 1st Team All-Trinity League middle blocker Alexis Dennick has committed to Westmont College. Dennick is also a scholar athlete, a seven-time High Honor Roll student and a member of California Scholarship Federation and National Honor Society.
“She is so grounded, and really plays inspired volleyball,” said OLu girls volleyball head coach, Henry Valiente. “She puts all in everything, and it shows, on and off the court.
“Lexi, your faith, your family and your love for the sport helped you through many obstacles here at OLu. Remember that going into your new chapter. The bonds you made here at OLu are forever yours. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to OLu volleyball. Good luck in your new chapter. They are so lucky to receive you.”
Valiente referenced an injury that kept Dennick sidelined for a year and how her relentless drive and love for the sport propelled her back to the top of her game and helped the Lancers earn a Trinity League championship.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their love and support,” said Dennick. “I would also like to thank my coaches Henry Valiente, Cami Iwata, Jared Shirai, AJ Christensen and Kristi Bowers for all of their help and encouragement in my athletic journey. Most of all, I want to thank God for the incredible opportunities and accomplishments he has so graciously blessed me with. Go Warriors!
Four-year varsity player Claire Underwood will continue her volleyball career at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The scholar athlete is a member of the STEM Academy, as well as National Honor Society.
“She’s the type of student athlete that most coaches would dream of working with,” said Valiente. “She’s hard working, talented, and more importantly, humble. Claire has always been an important piece to OLu volleyball. She carries herself as a true leader, year in and year out.
“Claire, you have been a steady rock here for OLu volleyball, and it’s because of your presence that we were always successful. Remember that you will always have your Lancer family behind you, and know you will do amazing work at your new school.”
Underwood is grateful for her time as a Lancer and is looking forward to her next steps as she heads to the East Coast.
“I would like to thank my coaches, friends, and most importantly, my family for encouraging me on my path to play college volleyball,” said Underwood. “I also would like to thank God for providing me with this opportunity and the amazing support system I have. I am so incredibly grateful that I have the ability to play volleyball and extend my education at my dream school. Roll Tech!”
Ten football players from the Lancers 2021 CIF championship squad signed to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level.
“I think any coach would trade any game day, any win, any championship, for days like today…because this is what it’s all about,” said OLu football head coach, Rod Sherman. “It’s about watching young people attack their future and seeing how God provides opportunity.”
Playing a number of roles for the Lancers, including wide receiver, cornerback and special teams, Malik Blackmon is headed to Adams State University in Colorado.
“It was such a privilege to watch him have some disappointment at times throughout the year and have some growth, and to see how he responded to that,” said Sherman. “He’s absolutely loved by his teammates. He’s such a gifted football player.”
Blackmon did whatever was asked of him on the field and played through a number of injuries throughout the season. His efforts produced an All-Trinity League Honorable Mention, and the program awarded him the Core Value Award for Passion.
“Thank you everyone that supported me, and thank you God for blessing me to do everything,” said Blackmon.
Lancer wide received Hayden Faraday will be taking his gridiron skills to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Named the Offensive Player of the Game in OLu’s CIF-SS Division 2 Championship win, Faraday made significant contributions all season.
“Hayden was consistent for us, was always ready and knew every position on the field,” said Sherman. “You just know that Hayden is going to do so many incredible things balancing football, academics, his character and his life. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him.”
Faraday extended thanks to those around him who have helped him achieve his academic and athletic goals.
“I would like to give thanks to my coaches and teammates for aiding in my development both on and off the field,” said Faraday. “Without their contributions, setting out to achieve my goals at the collegiate level wouldn’t be possible. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the coaching staff at RPI for providing me with this opportunity. Finally, I want to give the most sincere thank you to my mom and dad for investing all their time into me and developing me into the young man I am today.”
Throwing 47 touchdowns with just seven interceptions on the season, Lancer quarterback Logan Gonzalez helped lead OLu to the program’s third CIF title and will be continuing his playing career at Portland State University.
“He was super consistent,” said Sherman. “He didn’t have highs and lows throughout the course of the season. He just played tremendously. It didn’t take long to capture your heart, and I know he’s going to do that at Portland State. He has left a legacy here at Orange Lutheran.”
Gonzalez completed nearly 4,000 yards, averaging 265 yards per game, an accomplishment that earned the All-Trinity League scholar athlete CIF-SS Division 2 Offensive Player of the Year honors.
“First off, I would like to thank God for blessing me with this opportunity,” said Gonzalez. “Then my family, none of this would be possible without your guys’ constant support. Also I would like to thank all of my coaches and teammates that have helped me reach this point. I am looking forward to being a Viking and to continue working! Thank you!”
It was Brendan Hale who would lead the Lancers onto the field and prepare his teammates for their next opponent. Hale will now take his skills to Southern Utah University.
“He was the emotional leader of our team,” said Sherman. “I think that tells such a story of how Brendan is respected by his peers and teammates. He left a legacy, not only on the football field, but in teaching what the Lancer way is. I’m just so honored to have been able to coach him, to have him be a coach on the field for us. I can’t wait to watch his future.”
The All-Trinity League player and scholar athlete showed gratitude to all of his supporters who have invested their time and energy into his growth.
“First off, I would like to thank God; without Him none of this is possible,” said Hale. “Next, I want to thank all of my friends and family for the constant support throughout my life. You know how much you mean to me. To all of my coaches and teammates I’ve had up to this point, thank you for shaping me into the player I am today. I will never forget the memories we shared. Lastly, thank you to all of the coaches who gave me the opportunity to play at their respective schools, but I am humbled and blessed to continue my academic and athletic career at Southern Utah University! The next chapter begins now, go Thunderbirds!”
The electric play of running back Desmin Jackson was key in the Lancers’ success this season. The All-CIF scholar athlete is headed to the East Coast to play for Dartmouth College.
“You think about how he was able to contribute on the field for us,” said Sherman. “It’s just so easy to talk about his work ethic, his commitment to the team, what he does to come to school here…and how he loves his teammates and how that manifests itself.”
Also an All-Trinity League and All-Orange County honoree, Jackson acknowledged those who have helped him elevate his goals as both a student and an athlete.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my mom, my dad and my sister,” said Jackson. “I would not have been able to do this without their endless love and support. I appreciate the countless amount of time and energy they have invested into this process. Also, I would like to thank the coaching staff for opening up the college opportunities for me and overall making me better. Thank you to my teammates for always pushing me to improve. Finally, thank you to everyone who has been by my side throughout this journey; your support is greatly appreciated.”
All-CIF wide receiver Jaylen Lynch will be continuing his playing career at Portland State University.
“If you want to see a room light up, invite Jaylen to come walk into that room,” said Sherman. “He immediately changes the demeanor and the dynamics in a room with who he is. What a blessing he was to our football team this year. His future is going to be even brighter as he continues to grow into the man that God has called him to be.”
The All-Trinity League and All-County honoree will be joining Lancer teammates Gonzalez and Tena at the Division 1 program.
“I want to thank my coaches, teammates and Ms. Laulhere for pushing me to achieve my athletic goals,” said Lynch. “With support and guidance from you all, I was able to push myself to work harder to be the player I am today. Lastly, I would like to give a huge thank you to my family for being my biggest fans and always believing in me. -#3 signing off-
Offensive tackle and scholar athlete Zack Miller has committed to Washington State University. Showing true resiliency in the Regional State Championship game, Miller broke his hand on the seventh play of the game, but pushed through to complete one of his best overall efforts of the season.
“I think what I saw grow in Zack was not just the toughness, but the why,” said Sherman. “I think he pushed through for his teammates because his teammates meant so much to him, and the family that he had worked so hard to create meant so much to him. His future is so bright.”
Having received All-Trinity League, All-Orange County and All-CIF accolades, Miller recognized his parents and coaches for their part in helping him take the next step in his playing career.
“I want to thank my parents for helping me to get to all of the training and practices, in addition to supporting me in all that I choose to do,” said Miller. “They helped me with regards to allowing me to attend this school which put me in the best spot for me to succeed. I would like to say thank you to the coaches of both the past and the ones of the more recent past – position coaches, Ward, Freddy and Boomer have made impacts of my athletic careers and in my personal growth and development. Finally, I would like to thank Coach Sherman for helping me tap into my full potential on and off of the field.”
All-Trinity League player Jace Rodriguez is headed to Stony Brook University in New York. Despite facing injuries throughout the season, the multi-positional player made a number of key plays for the Lancers during their title run, earning him the Core Value Award for Toughness.
“What I’ve learned watching Jace is what it means to be an all-around young man, gifted in so many different areas,” said Sherman. “I think sometimes we talk about that God didn’t create us in an ‘or’ world, that you were going to be a great student or a great athlete. But it’s an ‘and’. And Jace is one of those young men that is an example of what it means to be an ‘and’. He does all this and maintains good character.”
Being prepared for the next level, both as a student and an athlete, was the focus of Rodriguez’s gratitude.
“First, let me say that this opportunity to continue my academic and athletic career wouldn't be possible without so much support that has been given to me over the years,” said Rodriguez. “First, I'd like to thank God, who with him, all things are possible. I'd also like to thank my parents and siblings who have provided me with opportunities to be successful both in the classroom and on the field. The coaches that have invested time in my athletic career to help mold me as a player and mentor me to become a better young man. The teachers and counselors whose effort ensured I am academically prepared for the next level. To my teammates who have challenged me, forced me to work harder in order to become a better teammate and friend. Finally, I would like to thank Stony Brook and the coaching staff for providing me with this opportunity to fulfill a lifelong goal of playing college football. Thank you and Go Seawolves!”
Versatile Lancer offensive lineman Anthony Tena has committed to Portland State University. Whether playing right tackle, right guard or left guard, Sherman acknowledged that Tena’s game was always consistent.
“He’s consistent in who he is,” said Sherman. “He consistently works hard in everything that he does. He’s consistent in his demeanor on the football field, never gets too high, never gets too low. He consistently does his best. We are so excited for Anthony’s future. He has left a great mark of what it means to truly be a Lancer and to be a great warrior at the line of scrimmage.”
Honored as an All-Trinity League and All-CIF recipient, Tena remains grateful for all who helped him achieve his goal of playing college football.
“I would like to thank God, my family, my friends and my coaches for helping me to achieve my dream of playing D1 football at the collegiate level,” said Tena. “I couldn’t have reached my goals without all of your help and guidance along the way. Thank you and Go Viks!”
Former Lancers center Kam Knox signed to Friends University in Kansas and was also celebrated. Coach Sherman recognized Knox during his remarks and Knox's family was in attendance.
Orange Lutheran Assistant Principal of Activities & Programs, Jasmine Anderson, closed the ceremony with a parting message of encouragement to the Lancer student athletes.
“Lancers, we are so proud of you,” said Anderson. “The Lord has gifted all of you in incredible ways. We cannot wait to see how he continues to work in and through each and every one of you at your next chapter. May you remain in the Word, stay strong in your faith, use your gifts to glorify Him in this next stage…because He has given this to you.”
Follow Lancer Athletics all year at oluathletics.org