Coach Lukers thoughts on his Sweet Water program

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SWEET WATER &8212; How long have you been the head football coach at Sweet Water High School?

I just finished my sixth year.

What is your record with the program during that time period?

At Sweet Water, my record is 63-15.

How has the program progressed from where it was when you took the position and where it is now, as a powerhouse of 1A football in the state?

When I got here, it sort of had to be built back from the ground up. It was sort of like starting over, but it went a lot quicker than I though it was gong to go. We ended up winning a state championship in 2004, which was my third year, with a real, real young team.

Anyway, it sort of went fast forward, if you want to know the truth, the first three years. I am definitely satisfied that we have been able to maintain that progress since our first state championship.

This graduating senior class has played under you at the high school or junior high level since you came to the school. How does this group illustrate the program&8217;s progression under you?

Of this group, I had about six of them on the varsity as eighth graders. Two of them started &8212; Anthony (Landrum) and Drew (Luker) &8212; were starters as eighth graders, though not in the positions they ended up in, but in positions they had been playing at the time.

They just got better every year. I was sharing with someone today that counting their eighth grade year these guys finished with a 56-10 record with three state championships and two region championships.

They are graduating as a very decorated bunch and, really, I guess as the face of what is now my program, if you want to know the truth about it because five of them started as ninth graders on the 2004 state championship team. It is just a real good group of guys, and they have been a good group of leaders for us through the years.

The junior high team, now, has seen this group come up like that. A lot of bigger schools don&8217;t have the of involvement with their junior high teams like you do, so what does that say to the importance of getting involved early with the younger groups?

We have grown and have 31 on our middle school team this year. Coach Scott Luker and coach Alan Lewis, our middle school coaches, do a great job.

One thing I am proud of this year is that, not only were we 14-0 in our varsity, but we also undefeated, 4-0-1, in our middle school program. We didn&8217;t lose a football game within any of our programs, seventh through 12th.

It is a strong program. We have always competed well. They implement my ideas at that level, and we pretty much have a good idea of who is able to play and who is able not to play by the time we get them in the ninth grade now.

And that is another good thing about my program now: we may have a couple of eighth graders on the varsity team, but we don&8217;t have to depend on eighth and ninth graders anymore. We are able to put older kids out there now.

Along those lines, with the graduation of senior leaders like Drew Luker, Landrum and Nakia Dennis, you have some big gaps to fill next year. Do you feel like you are better able to fill those vacancies now that the program has matured?

Sure. Sure we are (able to fill vacancies). We have a lot of younger kids getting snaps. There were a few games this year where we only had one defensive starter out there because of injuries, so a lot of young guys got snaps and got to play. And I think guys are more eager now to step up and assume their roles.

Our class that will be seniors next year, our junior class this year, when we get there in January they will know it is their team. They will assume the leadership role for our guys, and everyone else will just sort of fall into place from there.

Everybody is always excited to step up, get a chance to play, and I think our young guys will be the same. We have some real good ninth graders that are going to be on the field next year as tenth graders that have a chance to play a lot of football for us next year.

You said to me earlier this season that you goal this year was to go undefeated and win a state championship. Is that the same next year?

(It is) Every year now. We sort of set the bar.

Yeah, but we felt like this had eluded us, had eluded this group you know. We were really wanting to be undefeated stat champions, and we accomplished that goal. We will have so many kids back that were a part of this year &8212; they will be hungry for it too.

They will sure be hungry for it to happen again.