French ready to take on challenge at Lincoln

March 08, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

STANFORD - The more he thought about it, the more Larry French realized he was ready for another challenge.

"I think it is a challenge, and I like challenges," French said Friday after he accepted the job as head football coach at Lincoln County.

There was also one another attraction connected to the job. His wife, the former Connie Christopher, is from Danville and still has family in the area.

"Connie and I both wanted back in this area," French said. "We think this is a great place to live, and we're happy to be back in this area."


French, 52, was head coach at Meade County for the last 15 years and compiled a 106-60 record while making his team an annual playoff participant.

Before that, French was the head coach at Mercer County from 1978 through 1988. His best year was 1988 when the Scotties went 10-2 and lost 26-7 to Danville in the second round of the Class AA playoffs. His 1986 team was 9-3.

His record was 70-43 with the Scotties. His 1983 team gave Mercer its first win over Harrodsburg since 1967 and his 1985 team was the first one at Mercer ever to win six straight games.

Smith was one of his assistants for four years

One of his assistant coaches at Mercer for four years was current Boyle County coach Chuck Smith.

"I think it is real exciting for area football to have him at Lincoln County," Smith said. "He is just a great football coach. He was my mentor for four years. He gave me my first job. I think Lincoln County got a great coach."

Smith knows French will expect to win soon even though the Patriots were just 2-8 each of the last two seasons and only 3-7 in 2001.

"Larry is not a patient person. He is going to want success right away," Smith said. "That is his personality. He knows what he is doing. He had the opportunity to build a strong program at Mercer County and Meade County. I wish him well."

French acknowledged it will "take some time" to build the type program he wants at Lincoln. However, he was willing to take a "small" pay cut to get the opportunity to succeed Robbie Lucas, a former Lincoln player who did not have his coaching contract renewed.

"There are some athletes here if we can get them out playing," French said. "They have won here before and I obviously think they can win again. Money was not the problem with me coming here. I wanted back in the area, but I also wanted to see that they had a commitment to winning."

French said he will receive an extra stipend to oversee Lincoln's weight-lifting program. He's also been told by Lincoln officials that the overall football budget will be increased and that he will be given the opportunity to add coaches to his staff.

"I am not going to do this if I cannot do a good job and you can't do a good job if you don't have all the pieces in place," French said.

One drawback is being in the same district as Boyle

One drawback to the job for French, or any coach, is having to compete in the same Class AAA district as Boyle. The Rebels have won a state-record five straight state championships and have lost only two games in the last five years.

Meade had to compete in the same region as Class AAAA powers Male and St. Xavier, but the district did not contain a power like Boyle.

"Chuck won't slack off just because I am coaching Lincoln," French said. "They have it going real well. It will be hard to overcome that, but we are going to try."

Smith said he's not looking forward to competing against French each season.

"He's a good friend of mine. I don't look forward to the competition that we will have on the field, but both of us are professional enough to know we will only be the enemy during the game," Smith said. "He knows what he's doing. He's been in this business a long time and he would not be coming to Lincoln if he did not think he could win."

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