The Coast News Group
Clark Allard
Clark Allard was recently named head coach of the Lancers' boys basketball team. Courtesy photo

Lancers hire new boys basketball coach

CARLSBAD — Over the past several months, the Carlsbad High School athletic department has seen a bit of a shakeup.

First, former Athletic Director Amanda Waters left for the same position at national powerhouse Mater Dei in Orange County. The school then tapped Sam Eshleman, who coached Lancers boys basketball for the last four seasons, as athletic director in July.

And now, the school has named Clark Allard, 33, as Eshelman’s replacement for the boys’ program. Allard was previously an assistant at local powerhouse Torrey Pines High School. Over the past seven seasons, the Falcons went 69-1 in the Avocado West League, with its only loss to the Lancers in 2019.

“Everyone was cautiously optimistic about the sports season,” Eshelman said. “We took the patient route, but … we’re really excited to have Clark. We like the fact that Clark is eager and that he fits really well into our school community.”

Eshelman took over the program in 2016, which had fallen on hard times. Over the course of his tenure, the Lancers returned to respectability winning the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship in 2018-19 (his third season) and losing in the Division I title game last season.

But after Waters left, Eshelman was tapped as AD in July, a position he said he didn’t actively seek out. Ultimately, the decision was hard but is a step in the right direction for his career.

“I really liked the kids that we had and wanted to see a few of them through,” Eshelman said. “Ultimately, my end goal is to serve in an educational leadership position. I felt like this was a door that opened … and that it was a good stepping stone for me for my end goal of being a school administrator.”

One of his first orders of business was to find a replacement. But with the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardizing the season, Eshelman said patience was key.

Once he had a target in Allard, Eshelman pulled the trigger. Eshelman said the school is fortunate to have such a coach who will fit in with the community and culture at CHS.

Allard, meanwhile, said he is excited to take on the job, especially with four starters returning. However, the pandemic has drastically changed the schedule of the season, which is now set to being on March 13. Regardless, Allard said he intends to preach pressure defense to force turnovers and easy baskets, jump-starting the offense.

His offensive philosophy, though, centers on coaching to his players’ strengths rather than trying to fit them into a specific system.

“I think it’s the perfect opportunity for me,” Allard said. “I know how an elite public school program runs. I think it will be a smooth transition for me. We got some really good players and I think we can compete with anybody in San Diego.”

Allard’s wife, Sara VanderHorst is also the AD and girls basketball coach at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad. They have a 1-year-old son.