Threeâ€”thatâ€™s the number of new football coaches in Lincoln County, as practice opened on Monday.
While three maybe an interesting number to county football fans. One also has made a name of itself.
One represents the 1A/2A Southern Piedmont Conference, the new conference Lincolnton, West Lincoln, East Lincoln and North Lincoln find themselves in.
The Knights, headed by new head coach Matt Beam, had the biggest turnout.
56 Junior Varsity players and 40 Varsity players are on board for Beamâ€™s first season at the helm.
â€œWeâ€™re pleased with the turnout and happy about the excitement they have,â€ Beam said. Theyâ€™re excited about getting better and Iâ€™m excited about them,â€ he added.
Because Beam, rich in football knowledge, is young heâ€™s been able to relate to the kids a little bit more.
â€œOur coaching staff is pretty young. Me being 28, Coach Barnes (Jason), so we want to make football fun, practice fun, but weâ€™re also trying to win games,â€ Beam said.
Lincolnton had the second biggest turnout in the county with 41 Varsity players and 39 showing up for the Junior Varsity.
â€œItâ€™s about what I expected. There are a few that didnâ€™t show and a few that did, so it balances out,â€ Wolvesâ€™ head coach Scott Cloninger said.
â€œI think we maybe the smallest high school in Lincoln County now and our numbers reflect that,â€ he added.
Cloninger usually doesnâ€™t start implementing new formations and motion sets until the third week of the season.
Due to his experienced players he did just that on Thursday.
â€œTonight (Thursday) was probably the best practice weâ€™ve had. Weâ€™re a little farther ahead of schedule because of the returning upper-classmen,â€ Cloninger said.
Randal Gusler, who jettisoned Statesville for West Lincoln, saw 35 Varsity players and 36 Junior Varsity come out.
The Rebels, who won four games last season, are hoping for even bigger things in Guslerâ€™s first year on the sideline.
While beating their opponents is on their mind; theyâ€™re more concerned with beating the heat right now.
â€œEverything has been wonderful. Weâ€™ve gone in the mornings to beat the heat,â€ Gusler said of his teamâ€™s 8 a.m. practices.
Not only have the Rebels responded well to the a.m. practices, but theyâ€™ve also responded well to Gusler and other new coaches.
â€œItâ€™s just been a great time so far and weâ€™ve had upbeat practices,â€ Gusler said. â€œThe kids have caught on very well to what weâ€™re trying to accomplish,â€ he added.
The third new coach Mike Byus, who will coach East Lincoln, left a very successful program in Robbinsville in favor of being closer to his parents.
After a couple of disappointing seasons, Byus is looking to get the Mustangs back on track, but he knows old habits donâ€™t die quickly.
â€œKnowing where theyâ€™ve come fromâ€”being lackadasical, weâ€™re working on a consistent effort from them right now. We just have to keep preaching,â€ Byus said.
The coach had 32 Varsity players and 29 Junior Varsity turn outâ€”numbers he is not pleased with.
â€œTheyâ€™re (the numbers) are way low in my opinion. I donâ€™t know why the numbers are low. I havenâ€™t had a chance to walk the halls everyday,â€ Byus said. â€œWe might not have many more football players in the building,â€ he added.
When asked how many he would like to see out, Byus responded, â€˜I would love to have 80.â€™
â€œMaybe they got turned off to football the last couple of years,â€ Byus gave as a reason for the low turnout.
While the regular season kicks off August 19th, county players will see live bullets in scrimmages held next week.
With so much tradition, new coaches, a new conference; 2005 figures to be another exciting season of Lincoln County football.
by John Mark Brooks