Mike Lanza thought it was time to return to the sideline.
The 56-year-old, who last led a high school football program in 2007, was named coach at Grove City on Jan. 13.
“Football has always been a passion of mine and I wanted to be able to get back into football, and Grove City afforded me the opportunity to do that,” said Lanza, who is retiring from teaching science and career-based intervention at Gahanna following the school year.
He replaced Matt Jordan, who resigned after going 24-27 in five seasons. Last season, the Dawgs finished 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
“Whenever you’re taking over a program such as a Grove City, you realize that there’s a rich tradition there and you certainly want to embrace that rich tradition and just try to keep things going in the direction they’re going,” Lanza said. “I’m very excited to be a part of the Grove City community. I know their football program is a very important part of the community.”
Lanza previously coached at Gahanna, Whitehall and Jonathan Alder.
“He came highly recommended from people all through the Ohio Capital Conference,” athletics director Tom Willison said. “He had great success in his tenures at Whitehall, at Jonathan Alder and of course at Gahanna, where he had tremendous success with the Lions. We think we have a great one and he will get us moving continually on the upward swing, and we expect great things from him.”
Lanza was Division II state and district Coach of the Year at Whitehall in 1993, as he helped the Rams end an 18-game losing streak and share the OCC-Capital title with Mount Vernon and Reynoldsburg.
The Rams went 17-33 in his five seasons.
Lanza then coached Gahanna from 1995-2007, finishing with a 90-49 record. His teams went 3-6 in six playoff appearances and won OCC-Ohio titles in 1998 and 2001.
The 1998 team went 10-0 during the regular season, and Lanza was named district Coach of the Year.
Gahanna was 33-37 in the seven years before Lanza arrived and 33-30 in the six seasons after he stepped down. He is the winningest coach in program history.
Lanza coached at Jonathan Alder from 1984-89, going 24-36.
On the field, he said he likes to establish an offense that features a hard-nosed running game with play-action passing.
“My M.O. has been that I have been able to take over programs and get them to the next level,” he said.
Lanza also is the girls basketball coach at Hartley. He has not decided his future plans with that program, which he guided to a 21-5 record last season that included the Hawks’ first district title since 2001.