25 is a nice round number for Mike Lunsford.
Lunsford has coached for 39 years but this season marked his 25th season as a head coach.
Lunsford has decided to retire after being a head coach 18 total years at Cloudland (1989-2003 and 2016-18) and seven years at nearby Hampton (2009-15).
“I had been thinking about retiring the last several years but I always came back fired up ready to go,” Lunsford said. “This year was different and it was harder to get motivated to get to practice and do the things that I needed to do to make the team successful, the older I get the harder it is and that’s not fair to the players and the school, so I know it time for me to step away.”
He had success at both schools as he posted a 225-68 overall record with a 159-53 record at Cloudland and a 66-15 record at Hampton.
In his first tenure at Cloudland which stretched 15 years, the Highlanders were 136-40 and made 14 playoff appearances (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003). The Highlanders went 13-2 and was the Class 1A runner up in 2001 and was 13-1 and made the semifinals in 2002.
“We appreciate the work that Mr. Lunsford has done at Cloudland High School. He is a true motivator on the field, on the court, in the class. He gets kids to give their all in whatever he is coaching and teaching. Students liked to play for him because he made connections with them and he really and truly loves the students and liked seeing the level that he could get them to in their sport,” Cloudland principal Lisa Benfield said.
After Lunsford left Cloudland in 2003, he went to Avery high school in North Carolina as an assistant coach in 2004 before going to be the offensive coordinator at Hampton in 2005. He was the offensive coordinator at Hampton until he became the head coach there in 2009.
His time at Hampton as well was very good as the Bulldogs made the Class 2A playoffs in all seven seasons he was there as head coach.
Hampton had an undefeated regular season in 2015 and made the 2A Semifinals finishing 13-1 after losing to Marion County.
In his last three seasons at Cloudland, the Highlanders made the 1A playoffs all three years which made 17 playoff appearances in 18 seasons under Lunsford (1997 the lone missed season) as Cloudland are coming off back to back 9-3 seasons.
There are currently 15 programs looking for a head coach they are: Bolton, Cloudland, Covington, East Robertson, Greeneville, Hamilton, Manassas, Morristown East, Nashville Overton, Northeast, Tellico Plains, Warren County, Wayne County, White Station and Whitwell
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