The lineup of Lincolnton High School football coaches will be missing a familiar face during the coming season.
Assistant coach Craig Kiser, who has been an assistant coach in Lincoln County for 35 years, with 32 of those years spent at Lincolnton, has retired. Kiser worked primarily with Lincolnton’s linemen, and said he would look back proudly upon many successful football teams, including two state championships and last year’s 2A state runner-up team.
“It’s been a very satisfying career,” he said. “I’ve worked with some great people and I’ve seen some good citizens become great citizens. After 35 years it’s just time to go do something else.”
Kiser was no stranger to Lincolnton football when he began coaching under former head coach Von Ray Harris in 1977. He was a lineman for the Wolves during his time in high school, and went on to play college football at Lenoir-Rhyne. During his time in high school, Kiser and current head coach Scott Cloninger played on the same team, Kiser as a senior lineman and Cloninger as a sophomore running back.
Cloninger said Kiser’s contribution to Lincolnton High School and its athletics is hard to measure.
“He was more than a teacher and a coach, he did so many things for Lincolnton High School and Lincolnton High School athletics,” he said. “He lined the field off and he did a lot of the maintenance work on the field. He’s one of those guys that if you needed something he would always step up to the plate and do those dirty jobs that had to get done.”
Cloninger said it was “going to be a very strange day” when the Wolves take the field without Kiser for the first time.
“It’s going to be very difficult on game nights and during practice sessions,” he said. “We’ve coached together for so long and we know each other so well, we have the same philosophy. He’s been a loyal person to Lincolnton. I don’t think we can replace him. It’d take four or five coaches to replace his knowledge. The thing about him is he’s a good coach and a good teacher, but he’s a great friend.”