Lucas made an impact on and off the pitch
Posted 4:19 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, 2022
Those who knew Robbie Lucas remember him as a successful manager who also made a strong impression off the football field.
Lucas, a former Lincoln County football player and coach who led Somerset to a state championship in 2019, died on Sunday. He was 50 years old.
Lucas, who coached at Lincoln in 2002 and 2003 and was Somerset’s head coach for the past 14 seasons, has died of cancer, according to Stanford’s WPBK-FM.
“He was a great coach and an even better person,” said Tim Estes, who was on Lincoln’s coaching staff for three of Lucas’ four years as a player there and remained friends with him. . “It’s just a shock to all of us.”
Lucas died two days after Somerset’s season ended with a second-round loss in the Class 2A playoffs. He wasn’t at that game, but he attended as many games and practices as he could as his health deteriorated, often watching from his van parked just outside the pitch.
Lucas, who continued to live in Lincoln County after leaving his alma mater, led Somerset to the Class 2A Championship in 2019, the school’s only KHSAA football championship.
“I called him to congratulate him on his win…and he said, ‘I didn’t play there,'” said Boyle County coach Justin Haddix, who spoke befriended Lucas during a chance encounter at a coaching clinic in 2010. “You’re there for your players and it’s about their experience, and I felt he was great with that.”
Lights were turned on at high school football fields across Kentucky Monday night in Lucas’s memory, including in Lincoln, Boyle, Danville and Garrard County.
At Lincoln, a red jersey bearing No. 62 – Lucas’ number from his playing days – and a helmet were displayed on a goal post while the pitch was lit.
“62. On the pitch where you played and coached. Tenacity and passion, wearing that number on that pitch and later coaching along that sideline…then building so many other young men @BJNFBALL in stride with a legacy that will live forever. We (heart) you, Coach Lucas,” Lincoln coach Josh Jaggers tweeted.
Lucas played at Lincoln from 1986 to 1989 and graduated from the school in 1990, then played at Cumberland College.
“He’s probably one of the first kids I met in 1987 when I got on the team with (head coach) Larry Phillips. He was a backup on the 1988 team on the (offensive) line and he was the starter at center the following year,” Estes said. “He was just a bold football player who always seemed to have a nose for the ball.
“I knew he was going to go on and do great things, and he did.”
Lucas had a career record of 118-78 as a head coach, including 114-62 at Somerset.
He spent 25 seasons with the Somerset programme, with two stints as an assistant coach before becoming head coach of the Briar Jumpers in 2009.
“The Somerset Independent Schools System and the entire Somerset community mourn the passing of Coach Robbie Lucas,” Somerset Independent Schools Superintendent Kyle Lively said in a statement. “He was an outstanding football manager, an excellent teacher and an even better person. Coach Lucas always put others before himself and made countless sacrifices for the sake of his players, coaches and students. he positive impact Robbie has had on everyone around him is immeasurable and will last for decades through the success of his players and students. The world has lost a great football manager and a fantastic man. Coach Lucas will We will miss him very much.Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Nicole, his daughters Molly and Maddie and to his entire family.
Lucas joined the Somerset staff in 1996 and left after the 2001 season to succeed Estes as Lincoln’s head coach. He went 4-16 in two years with the Patriots, then returned to Somerset as an assistant coach.
He was named interim head coach at Somerset shortly before the start of the 2009 season after his players lobbied for him, then was appointed head coach after a 14-1 season which ended in class 3A final.
It was during this offseason that Haddix, then a 25-year-old rookie head coach at Perry County Central, found a seat next to Lucas in the back of the room at a coaches clinic in Danville.
“We’re starting to talk, and I’m just figuring out what to do. He offered to help me with anything I needed, planning, whatever. He sent me everything. that I was asking for,” Haddix said. “Here he’s helping a young coach who just wanted to be good.”
“We were texting almost every Friday and saying good luck. We had a great relationship. He was just a big man and he loved kids.
Estes said Lucas is constantly working to improve as a coach, just like he did as a player.
“He impressed me as a player because of his work ethic. He probably wasn’t one of the most talented kids, but he worked harder, and I would say that same work ethic s applied to everything he did in his life,” Estes said.
“I think it just goes to show the kind of individual he is. Robbie probably wasn’t the loudest and loudest; he was a little modest. But when you met Robbie, you got the real deal.
Estes and Haddix said Estes will be remembered for his influence in the lives of his players both on and off the court.
“Things like this never make the papers,” Haddix said. “It’s all about winning and losing, but really it’s about having great young men, learning and having a good time.”
“It shows the positive impact coaches can have on today’s youngsters,” Estes said. “In a world where there are so many broken families, that coach might be someone who spends more time with them than his family.
“When you know that there are coaches who make a difference in children’s lives, it’s worth it.”