When the North Lincoln Knights meet the East Lincoln Mustangs this football season, there will a familiar face on the sideline.
No, not that sideline, the other one. Lonnie Custer, who coached the Knights to five wins last season, has accepted a position as an assistant coach for rival East Lincoln.
While football season is still three months away, Custer already knows the date when he faces his former team. Without hesitation, Sept. 23rd jumps out of his mouth.
â€œI wish the kids at North great success. Theyâ€™ll always hold a special place with me. Iâ€™ll definitely have mixed emotions when we play them,â€ he said.
â€œIt should be an exciting game,â€ he added.
Instead of dwelling on the past, Custer is happy to already be part of the Mustangsâ€™ family.
â€œIâ€™m happy to be a Mustang. Iâ€™m looking forward to working with Coach Byus and working with Mr. Black and Coach Hodges,â€ he said.
Other area schools also offered Custer a position, but he wanted to stay close to home. Custerâ€™s main priority was not wanting to move wife Wendi and their two sons Luke and Jake.
â€œIt was a real blessing that this opportunity came available. Iâ€™m happy to stay close to home,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m 15 minutes from my house and I donâ€™t have to move my family again.â€
East Lincoln Principal Todd Black feels new head coach Mike Byus and Custer will give their football program an added boost.
â€œI think he and Coach Byus have a lot of the same coaching philosophies. Weâ€™re excited to have him with us,â€ Black said.
While Black and athletic director Neil Hodges are excited to have Custer on board, Byus is just as pleased.
â€œI just feel like heâ€™s going to bring a vast amount of experience and energy to our program. Anytime you have a person thatâ€™s been a head coach before, they know what it takes, theyâ€™ve been through the rigors,â€ Byus said via telephone Wednesday morning.
â€œThey know what it takes to get it done. Theyâ€™ve been through the rigors,â€ he added.
While many other schools offered a coordinator position to Custer, including some in the Southern Foothills, his reason for choosing East Lincoln was simple.
â€œTheyâ€™ve shown a commitment to build a quality athletic program and Iâ€™m glad to be a part of it.â€
by John Mark Brooks