by Andrew Garda

Change continues at Montclair High School, as boys lacrosse coach John Scanlan has announced he will not return for the 2018 season.

Scanlan says the parting of ways was amicable and mutual.

While there were several factors in his decision to end his tenure as lacrosse coach, Scanlan says the departure of Athletic Director Jeff Gannon, whose contract was not renewed by the board of education earlier this year, was not one of them.

Scanlan’s 2017 team struggled through multiple serious injuries, including losing two of the team’s three goaltenders, but managed to end up with the same wins the 2016 unit had, finishing with a 5-11 record.

Scanlan credits the players for working hard under adverse conditions.

“Guys like Matt Comini and Will Obeditch. Jamon Randolph,” he said. “They all stepped up last year to take on a tough situation. They knew it would be hard and we all got through it. I was really proud of last year’s team because they accomplished probably what people didn’t think they could do.”

Though the season was a disappointing one, Scanlan believes the team has a lot to work with and has been running various summer programs to enable them to build on it.

It started with weight room sessions which, if lightly attended at times, kept the players’ enthusiasm up. There were also Open LAX practices from the end of June throughout July. Scanlan said that the group was a bit thin to start with, but each week saw more and more players show up.

“At the end of it we were having really big crowds. We had full field, 10-on-10 [scrimmages] with subs and everything.”

It was an enjoyable way to spend the summer, he said.

The plan had been to get ready for fall with a team meeting to go over what everyone should be doing during the remainder of the offseason, then getting indoors for practice after Thanksgiving, in preparation for lacrosse season in the spring.

Scanlan says he hopes the school can find the right coach soon so that the momentum he built this summer can continue. Last year, the team was rudderless after former coach Brian O’Rorke left the program. Scanlan came on practically at the last minute and above all else, Scanlan wants to avoid a repeat of that. He timed his decision in part to make sure there was plenty of time to hire a new coach before spring.

“I had just come back from vacation, down at the shore. And I spent a lot of time alone, walking on the beach and just thinking about stuff and tried to be as reflective as I could,” Scanlan said about his decision. “I came back and had my meeting with [Principal] James Earle and [Interim Athletic Director] Mike Miello. I came out of the meeting feeling that the only decision I could make was pretty clear.”

That decision was that it was time to move on.

Miello says the district will move forward with a coaching search, and will soon be posting the position, then sifting through candidates.

“It was a tough decision,” Scanlan said. “But at the end of the day, I thought it was best for the young men of the Montclair High School lacrosse team.”