COAL GROVE, Ohio — When Coal Grove High School football coach Jay Lucas talks about his favorite assistant, his eyes light up, a smile stretches across his face and he leans forward with excitement.
Lucas' most-loved member of his staff is his father Dave Lucas, the Ohio High School Coaches Hall of Fame legend. Dave Lucas, 72, brings a wealth of knowledge learned while compiling a 244-113-1 record, going 222-104-1 at Coal Grove before a three-year stint at Wellston.
"My dad is my hero," said Jay Lucas, first-year head coach at Coal Grove after two years at Wellston. "I'm very blessed to have him as a father. He's a great football coach for sure, but he's the best man I've ever met. I'm tickled to death he's with us."
Dave Lucas sat in the Hornets coaches' office Friday before the team's media day and reminisced about his days as head coach at Coal Grove from 1977 through 1999 and again from 2004 through 2014.
Lucas' teams won 20 Ohio Valley Conference championships and made the playoffs 10 times, twice reaching he state semifinals.
The wins and losses, though, weren't what stirred memories on Friday. Dave Lucas remembered the people who influenced him. The list is illustrious.
Ceredo-Kenova head coach Carl Ward and assistant Dale Craycraft, former Coal Grove coach Red Duty and former Fairland coach Jim Mayo, for whom Lucas was an assistant.
"I knew the X's and O's," Dave Lucas said. "Coach Mayo, though, taught me how to deal with kids. That's important. That's something a lot of people never get."
Dave Lucas taught Jay Lucas X's and O's as well as how to handle players. Jay listed several other mentors, including former coaches Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham of Ironton, Phil Davis of Chesapeake, Ron Hinton of Chillicothe, Duty, Ward and Craycraft, but said no one made an impact on him the way his dad has.
"I used to ride my tricycle from the football field to the board office to talk to Red Duty," Jay Lucas said. "For me, coach Lutz and coach Davis were big influences. I was an assistant for coach Davis one year when Chesapeake went 10-0. I went to coach Lutz's office once and asked him to show me what they did on defense. He gave me their playbook. They were just phenomenal. In my eyes, though, the best one is the old man."