For the second straight year, Lumberton hopes it has found the right coach to lead its football program.
After Mike Brill’s retirement following the 2012 season, Joe Salas was selected to keep the Pirates in the thick of the Southeastern Conference title picture.
Only things didn’t work out the way Salas or the administration would have liked. In fact Salas didn’t even get the chance to finish the season. He submitted his resignation after guiding the team to an 0-7 record. Lumberton elevated defensive coordinator Ron Cook to interim head coach. Cook helped the Pirates close out the year 1-3.
This sent Lumberton’s higher-ups back to drawing board and looking for a coach to get things in order.
Robesonian staff writer Brad Crawford wrote the school had 30 applicants for the vacant position and trimmed the number to eight finalists. After conducting final interviews with the candidates, Lumberton principal Larry Obeda, athletic director Mackie Register, Robeson County athletic director Jason Suggs and members of the booster club picked Mike Setzer.
Salas was stepping into a good situation and now Setzer is set to do the same. Lumberton is the 20th largest school in the state according to the 2013 ADM numbers, so Setzer shouldn’t have to worry about attracting players. In addition, there is a solid youth football program that funnels players to the six county schools.
Setzer, the former St. Pauls and West Caldwell coach, doesn’t sport a great resume, compiling a 25-47 record in six seasons, but that didn’t seem to faze the selection committee or members of the Public Schools of Robeson County school board.
“Mike’s well-known in the community and he’s good with the kids,” said PSRC board member Dwayne Smith to the Robesonian. “I think he’ll be a big plus to the high school. He works well in-house with his peers and I know he’s excited. When kids respect you, they tend to go that extra mile. Mike has that knack.”
Under Brill, Lumberton was known for being hard-nosed, physical and played until the final horn. It didn’t appear the Pirates had that same kind of fire under Salas or Cook.
Suggs believes Setzer will be able to bring back that mindset.
“Mike’s biggest obstacle is being the third coach in three years,” Suggs said. “Kids don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care. He will build that trust.”
Time will tell if Lumberton made the right selection this time, not only for its fans, but more importantly for the players.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.