New East Lincoln Mustangsâ€™ head football coach Mike Byus was introduced at East Lincoln High School on Thursday. Principal Todd Black and athletic director Neil Hodges couldnâ€™t be more happy about their choice to succeed former coach Matt Rikard.
Hodges and Black believed experience was at a premium when they collaborated on what type of coach they wanted to hire as the new head coach.
“Our objective was to get a guy with some experience, He certainly has a great deal of experience. We`re pleased to have him join our Mustangsâ€™ family and work with our student athletes to help them achieve to their maximum abilities,” he said.
Byus with 14 of years as a head coach and a career record of 75-62 fits the bill.
“We think he has the experience, the training and the ability to do that. He`s a
nice addition to our family,” Hodges added.
When Byus came to Denver on his interview both Black and Hodges were convinced they had their guy.
“When we were fortunate enough to get Mike`s name, right from the beginning of the interview I had a feeling he was the guy for East Lincoln,” Black said.
As a matter of fact, they were so convinced Byus was their coaching answer they offered him the job on the spot.
Since 1985, the Mustangs have had no football coach stay longer than five years. Black and Hodges believes Byus will be different.
“We hope he`ll stay with us. Anytime a coach comes into a new situation, we try to do everything in our power to do everything we can to see he has the necessary tools to succeed,” Hodges said.
â€œIâ€™ve never taken a job I didnâ€™t expect to stay at. Sometimes life happens and changes happens, but Iâ€™ll promise you weâ€™re going to give it an all-american effort,â€ Byus said.
Black is committed in making the transition as smooth as possible for the 43-year old coach. Heâ€™s also allowing Byus to bring one or two coaches with him to build a formidable coaching staff.
“We are currently in the process of helping him build his staff. We`re looking to add some people to the staff that coach Byus feels strongly about,” Black said.
The opportunity to bring coaches with him, the promise to upgrade certain football facilities and Blackâ€™s desire to build East Lincoln into a football power all weighed heavily in Byusâ€™ mind.
Hodges feels it will take some time for current Mustangs to get on the same page as Byus, but he believes Byusâ€™ coaching philosophies and personality will mesh well with the kids.
“It takes generally a new coach coming into a situation awhile to get their philosophy established and their work ethic across to the kids. The key is having your kids develop, play at a high energy level. I think after he gets in and starts working with the kids and develop a rapport with the kids that are already with our program and kids coming in, theyâ€™ll take to him and respect his abilities,â€ he said.
Beginning yesterday, the East Lincoln community is already behind him 100 percent. Many East Lincoln Sports Boosters, East Lincoln Optimist members and PA Announcer Jimmy Cherry were at the high school to welcome Byus.
“I think he`ll blend well with our community. Out there in the eastern part of the county is a great place to raise a family. Anytime a deal is a good deal– it`s good for both parties. I think East Lincoln is a nice fit for him and I think it`s a nice fit for us,” Hodges said.
One value Byus, who will serve as assistant athletic director under Hodges, feels strongly about is class. He preaches that players must exhibit class in the classroom, as well as on the field.
Black felt Byus priorities and personality fit the Mustangs.
“His whole demeanor and personality, It`s the type of personality we`re looking for. As much as winning is important, academics is more so. Some people feel you have to sacrifice academics to have a good athletic program, but that`s not the case. These kids have to excel in the classroom,” he said.
â€œI think every coach expects their kids to act right. Weâ€™re going to ask them to represent themselves, our school and their families with class,â€ Byus said.
â€œIâ€™ve never had much problem getting kids to respond to that, by telling them why itâ€™s important,â€ he said.
The thinking is Byus, with back-to-back 10 win seasons and proven offensive football game plans, will generate some much-needed excitement.
â€œIf there is excitement about the football program, it will spill over into the school itself and the opening of the school year,â€ Black said.
With the three committed to making the Mustangs a long-term success, Black is doing everything in his power to build a stable football programâ€”something East Lincoln has not had since Bruce Bolickâ€™s 15 years at the helm.
“The one thing is something we`ve had to overcome is coaches that were in and out, in and out–head coaches and assistant coaches. Until we were able to build some continuity, we were destined to have problems. In talking to Mike, he had some very good leads on some coaches that could really fit the bill for East Lincoln.”
With the Mustangs going 2-9 last season, Byus knows success wonâ€™t come easy.
â€œIâ€™m not blind to the fact we got a challenge, and the first people to accept that challenge is the kids. If theyâ€™re not going to accept it, it will never materialize,â€ Byus said.
by John Mark Brooks