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St. Ignatius hires USC coach to lead football program

St. Ignatius offensive lineman Zach Quillici (55) lifts Gus Parker in celebration after Parker's touchdown during the first quarter of the Wildcats' 35-14 win over Riordan in San Francisco on Nov. 4, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

St. Ignatius has reached outside of the Bay Area to find its new football coach, hiring a USC alum who spent the last five years on the Trojans’ coaching staff.

Lenny Vandermade, who played on the offensive line at USC from 2000 to 2003 and served as an offensive analyst at his alma mater, was announced as SI’s new head football coach in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.

“Coach Lenny Vandermade brings a wealth of football knowledge in both playing and coaching experience to our football program,” athletic director John Mulkerrins said. “His passion and enthusiasm for the game of football is contagious.”

New St. Ignatius football coach Lenny Vandermade played for the Hamburg Sea Devils in 2005. | Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images

After a brief professional career with the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe, Vandermade began his coaching career in Southern California. He served as a graduate assistant at San Diego State, tight ends coach at the University of San Diego and as tight ends coach at USC.

The 42-year-old Vandermade’s high school coaching experience came at Southern California Catholic schools over the past decade. He was the offensive line coach at Loyola, Los Angeles’ oldest Jesuit school, in 2013, and spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Santa Margarita Catholic, an Orange County school that competes in the Trinity League with national powers Mater Dei and St. John Bosco.

New St. Ignatius head football coach Lenny Vandermade graduated from Mater Dei in 2000. | Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Vandermade himself is a Mater Dei alum who played under longtime head coach Bruce Rollinson. In November, Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times listed Vandermade as a candidate to succeed Rollinson at his alma mater. Mater Dei ultimately promoted from within, elevating defensive backs coach Frank McManus to the head coaching role. The Mater Dei program has been under the microscope in recent years after detailed allegations of hazing in the locker room, which was reportedly ignored by coaches.

The SI job will be Vandermade’s first coaching position outside of Southern California. He succeeds John Regalia, who stepped down in January after 12 seasons. The Wildcats went 6-7 in the 2022 season, falling to Bellarmine in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Division II Championship Game.

St. Ignatius quarterback Soren Hummel (18) prepares to pass during the Wildcats' 24-15 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Central Coast Section Division II Football Quarterfinals in San Francisco on Nov. 11, 2022. | Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri

Vandermade will be the first head football coach at SI that didn’t attend the school since Mike Pena, who coached the team in 1988 and 1989. He’ll inherit a roster full of returning starters, including quarterback Soren Hummel, linebacker Sui Gallegos-Hunkin, running backs Jarious Hogan and Cameron Jones and wide receivers Moe Barnum and Pierce St. Geme.

“I want to thank Principal Michelle Nevin Levine, Mr. Jeff Glosser, Mr. John Mulkerrins and the rest of the football search committee at St. Ignatius for the opportunity to serve as its next head football coach,” Vandermade said in the press release. “My family and I are excited to immerse ourselves in the SI community. I look forward to teaching and developing the next generation of SI football players into leaders-in-service and Ignatians with and for others on and off the football field. Go Cats!”

Vandermade has four children, including a 12-year-old son who could find himself in a St. Ignatius uniform in the near future.