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New leader steps in for Spartans

Football: James Sims takes over for Spartans after coaching at Florida's Hawthorne High last year.

March 29, 2012|By Andrew Shortall

James Sims is moving all the way across the country to take over as the new football coach at La Cañada High next season, according a statement released by La Cañada Athletic Director Craig Franzen Tuesday.

The 46-year old Sims is the 12th football coach in program history and replaces Dan Yoder, who announced he was stepping down in December, with 12 years of coaching experience, most recently at Hawthorne High in Jacksonville, Fla.

"The primary goal for La Cañada is to remain premier students while striving to become the best athletes they can be," stated Sims, who carries a 75-63 career record into La Cañada, in a press release. "In conjunction with the goal of being a student athlete is to earn the respect of our opponents. I want teams that have La Cañada on their schedule to know that they are in for a battle when they play the Spartans."

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La Cañada Athletic Director Craig Franzen said Sims brings a lot to table.

"His knowledge of the game, experience and flexibility was big, it's all just one package rolled together for us," Franzen said. "He is energetic, he's a younger guy, but he still has that football experience."

Sims also believes he will be able to "relate to the culture of La Cañada" after coaching for two years at Hawthorne, which "is one of the smallest schools in Florida," according to the press release. He posted a 12-10 record with the Hornets and led them to two consecutive playoff appearances.

The Hornets took second in Florida's District VI, Class IA last year with a 5-6 record, 3-1 in class, and were knocked out in the first round of the Florida High School State Playoffs by Jefferson County, 38-0.

The Spartans may not deviate too far from the option offense Yoder, who posted a 13-18 record with an 8-7 Rio Hondo League mark, employed the past three seasons.

"I had a lot of success running the triple option in the past, but it is important for me to meet the players before making any decision on schemes for either the offense or the defense," stated Sims, who's run a variety of offenses and defenses in his career. "I believe a coach should base his schemes off of the talent he has instead of forcing the talent into his scheme."

Sims also "has a handful of players" playing in the National Football League and several on the collegiate level, Division I through NAIA, according to the press release.

andrew.shortall@latimes.com

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