Mike Lucas, a Ritchie County native who has coached football his entire life in the Mid-Ohio Valley, will be honored tonight at halftime of the Class AAA state championship boys basketball game in Charleston by the West Virginia State Coaches Association.
Lucas, 63, the former head football coach at Parkersburg Catholic, Harrisville, Wirt County and Ritchie County high schools, will receive the Retired Coach of the Year award for Region II from the coaches association.
From Pennsboro, Lucas played football for the Kenny Wright's Cardinals with his first coaching job coming in 1973 as an assistant to Louie Nocida at Magnolia. After four years in New Martinsville, the last two under Dave Cisar, Lucas rejoined Nocida, who had taken the head position at Sistersville, for a season before landing his first head coaching job at Catholic in 1978.
''We had some good players at Catholic, we just didn't have enough of them,'' said Lucas.
From Catholic after three seasons guiding the Crusaders' grid fortunes, Lucas went to Harrisville for five years, the first three coaching Gator football and the last two helping Tom Cowan with basketball, before ''the Wirt County job just came up.'' said Lucas.
He admitted being ambivalent about the Wirt opening.
''Honestly, when I went for the interview, I did not even know if I wanted to take the job if they offered it to me, until I met with (Wirt principal) Ray Watson,'' who changed his mind - and that turned out to be good not only for Lucas, but for Wirt County football as well for the next 14 years.
Just listen to Lucas: ''When I went into Wirt County in 1986, the moon and the stars and the planets just all aligned; it all just kind of fell into place. I had great assistant coaches, and,'' he stressed, ''we had good players. Players that just really wanted to win - and that's all you need.''
He knows ''there were some lean years too (at Wirt), but for the most part, nobody could ask for anything more.''
Lucas' Wirt legacy: a perfect 10-0 regular season in 1992 and three 9-1 seasons; six playoff appearances; seven LKC championships; an average of seven wins a season.
Today, the festivities for Lucas will begin at 5 p.m. in the Civic Center Coliseum with a reception, ''and I'm sure they'll tell a lot of stories about me,'' said Lucas. His wife, Barbara, and two sons, Ryan 33, and J.T, 30, will be there, ''and I know that there's some players from Catholic and Wirt who said they'll be there,'' he said. ''And that last part is great, because you can talk about the football stuff all you want to, but the associations that you have with people and in particular your players, who are like your family, are the most important things you take from your time in coaching.''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org