Saying he’s “taken the program as far as I can,” Oliver Lucas announced Monday he will step down as Manual High School’s football coach after this season’s playoffs.
Lucas said he wanted to make the announcement now – rather than after the playoffs – to “make myself available for other jobs. … It also gives my administration time to replace me and find a new guy.”
Lucas said he plans to continue coaching in Kentucky.
“The timing is just right to pursue another challenge,” Lucas said. “My thing is that I go wherever there’s a need. I want to go to a program and build it beyond where it would normally be. My strength is my vision. I’m not really concerned where I’m at as long as there’s an opportunity to incorporate the things that are needed to take it to another level.”
Lucas was the head coach at Bryan Station for four seasons before taking the Manual job prior to the 2010 season. He has posted a 44-24 record, including a pair of 9-3 seasons in 2011 and 2013. This year’s squad is 8-2 entering a first-round Class 6-A playoff game Friday at Ballard.
While Manual has been among the top teams in Class 6-A during most of Lucas’ tenure, the Crimsons haven’t been able to get over the hump against Catholic-school powers Trinity and St. Xavier. Lucas is 0-15 against the Shamrocks and Tigers during his tenure and 44-9 against everyone else.
“Those programs have excellent educations and athletics as well,” Lucas said. “I don’t understand why something like that can’t be done here at Manual. But Manual is a different beast. I feel good about what we’ve done here at Manual. … But I look at St. X and Trinity and say, ‘Why not my kids?’ When I was at Bryan Station, I said, ‘Why not my kids?’”
Manual athletic director David Zuberer issued a statement in response to the announcement.
“We are appreciative to Dr. Oliver Lucas for six exceptional years as our head football coach,” Zuberer said. “His guidance and leadership has helped reestablish Manual as one of the state’s top football programs. As the playoffs are set to begin, our present focus is for a successful and long postseason run led by our current coaching staff. With that in mind, the process of hiring a new coach will begin at the conclusion of the 2015 season.”
Lucas said he expects his squad to remain focused during the playoffs. If the Crimsons get past Ballard on Friday, a second-round game at rival and No. 1-ranked Male could be waiting in the second round. Male beat Manual 43-7 on Oct. 23.
“I think the kids will rally and play hard for me,” Lucas said. “Nothing has changed other than I’m going to step down at the end of the playoffs. Hopefully that won’t come until sometime in December.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.