A Kingly Connection

Aaron Lacombe (L) and Adam Friederichsen (R) have been instrumental to the success of the Kingsmen on the gridiron (Photo: Bobby Curtis, TO Acorn).
Aaron Lacombe (L) and Adam Friederichsen (R) have been instrumental to the success of the Kingsmen on the gridiron (Photo: Bobby Curtis, TO Acorn).

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Long before Adam Friederichsen and Aaron Lacombe starred for Cal Lutheran's football team, they were practice squad teammates at the University of Arizona.

Friederichsen, Cal Lutheran's starting senior quarterback, still wears an Arizona undershirt. The logo is tattered and the shirt is faded.

It serves as a simple reminder of the time that's passed—and how far Friederichsen and his friend and teammate have come to get here.

Friederichsen and Lacombe, a wide receiver who played three years of football at Oak Park High, have worked hard to become two of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's top players.

"When we were at U of A, we'd do our own extra workouts," Lacombe said. "We'd get onto the field and run routes. It started there. The rest is history."

It's history in the making for Friederichsen, Cal Lutheran's third-year starting quarterback.

The 22-year-old, who lives with Lacombe and senior tight end Diego Hernandez, is one of the most prolific passers in school history.

He's thrown 38 touchdowns in 20 games, ranking fourth all-time in passing strikes at Cal Lutheran. He's also racked up 4,774 passing yards, putting him just ahead of Ryan Huisenga for sixth all-time in program history. Huisenga is head coach of Moorpark High's football team.

"We've seen a level of growth out of him that's very exciting," Cal Lutheran head coach Ben McEnroe said of Friederichsen. "I think he's getting close to playing to his potential. We're all benefitting from it."

Lacombe benefits from catching passes from his gunslinger.

Lacombe snagged 40 catches for 886 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He's even better this year.

He's already gobbled up 19 receptions for 402 yards and four scores in the first three games of his senior season.

"What I've seen this entire offseason is a willingness to be more invested in the minor details of his craft, like improving his route running and always working on his hands," McEnroe said.

The bond between the Kingsmen standouts has continued to grow since roasting under the Tucson sun.

The quarterback and receiver have even shared secret hand signals they created at Arizona with CLU teammates.

Lacombe also played football at Crespi and Moorpark College. His mother, Michelle, a former track and field star at Agoura High and Cal State Northridge, wouldn't allow her son to play football before high school, so he spent his youth playing basketball.

At Arizona, Lacombe, a Thousand

Oaks native, and Friederichsen, a San Diego native, became close.

They became even closer when Friederichsen's parents, Gustavo and Sheila, moved to Westlake, less than a mile from the home of the Lacombes.

The players would meet up locally during holiday breaks to run routes at nearby parks and fields before joining forces at Cal Lutheran in 2016.

"We spent a lot of time in the offseason throwing and really getting that timing right," Lacombe said. "I think that's why we've been able to have that success."

Lacombe, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver, has drawn interest from NFL scouts. A business major, Lacombe said he spoke to the Los Angeles Chargers during the offseason.

He's not letting the attention distract him.

"You hear those things, but you kind of have to keep those in the back of your mind," he said. "You have to keep working. When those opportunities come, I'll be prepared for that."

Friederichsen is confident in his top target.

"He works really hard at everything that he does, whether he's running a slant or a go (route)," the quarterback said. "His dream is to go to the NFL. NFL teams look at every single play on film, not just the highlight tapes. He knows that, and I know he's not going to loaf on a play or run a bad route because he doesn't think he's getting the ball.

"He expects the ball every play. To be able to have that, it just makes it easier on us."

Every play matters for Friederichsen and the Kingsmen in a chase for a conference title.

"It doesn't matter if I throw for 400 yards in a game or 100," he said. "As long as we win, that's the most important thing."

Email Jonathan Andrade at jandrade@theacorn.com.

Release: A Kingly Connection
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