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Family Affair: Jay Lucas looks to dad Dave for more than fatherly advice

Three generations of the Lucas family will be coaching the Coal Grove Hornets this season. From left to right, Jordan Lucas, Jay Lucas and Hall of Fame coach Dave Lucas. Dave Lucas is Jay’s father and Jordan’s grandfather. Jordan is Jay’s son. (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

COAL GROVE — There are coaches and fans who admire and like to emulate some of the great coaches such as Woody Hayes, Lou Holtz and Nick Saban.
But for Coal Grove Hornets’ first-year head coach Jay Lucas, he doesn’t have to look very far to find his coaching idol.
“My dad is my here. I’m very blessed to have him as my father,” said Jay Lucas. “I think of him as a great football coach for sure, but to me it goes a lot deeper than that. He’s the best man I’ve ever met.
“I’m tickled to death that he’s able to be out here with us. I tell people all the time that I don’t know that there’s anybody in the world who’s a bigger advocate for high school football and a guy who’s better to be around kids. He’s phenomenal teaching kids life lessons and trying to do things right for kids.”
The record speaks for itself when looking at the career of Dave Lucas who was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
But dad is content to be an assistant coach and more of a spectator, only with more knowledge and experience than anyone in the stadium.
“It’s enjoyable to coach with your son. But I’m just there to support just like any other assistant coach. (Jay) is the head coach and that’s how I want it,” said Dave Lucas.
“I observe and if I see something I’ll mention it to him on the field if it’s really important. If not, I’ll wait until we get back in the locker room.”
After an impressive playing career for Carl Ward at Ceredo-Kenova, Dave Lucas played for Marshall where he lettered in both 1967 and 1968.
Lucas, 72, then began coaching and put together a career record of 244-113-1 including 222-104-1 at Coal Grove.
His teams at Coal Grove won 20 Ohio Valley Conference titles, qualified for the playoffs 10 times and reached the state semifinals twice.
“I knew the X’s and O’x. Coach Mayo, though, taught me how to deal with kids,” said Dave Lucas who began his coaching career as an assistant to Jim Mayo at Fairland.
“That’s important. That’s something a lot of people never get.”
When Jay Lucas was hired as the Hornets’ head coach this season, he got his father to help. He also employed his son, Jordan, a former quarterback who has aspirations of following in the footsteps of the coaching family.
“(Jordan) has been around it all his life,” said Dave Lucas. “He gets to do what he likes to do.”
Besides the side of the Lucas family, Jay and Jordan have a relationship to Red Dutey due to Jay’s wife, the former Amy Mader.
Also, Jay’s father-in-law and Jordan grandfather Rick Mader has coached baseball and football at Coal Grove with his son and current principal Dean Mader.
Jay Lucas said that as a kid growing up, Ironton and Coal Grove always scrimmage and gave money to the Red Dutey Fund.
“When I was older and one year when dad was retired, I went down and talked to Coach Lutz through the season. I want to pick his brain and learn from him and see the knowledge he had,” said Jay.
“Everyone though Coach Lutz was a dry guy, but he had a funny side to him. He was just a quick-witted thing and I got him. When we came out here and scrimmaged on Saturday, he’d come up and say, ‘you guys are going to be all right. You’re going to have a good team. You guys do this well, you do that well,’ and that always meant a lot to me.
“As a young guy, I had a lot of respect for him. Now, my dad does the same thing. He’ll say, ‘I feel this is good. Now you need to look at this somewhere down the road.’ And having that type of mentorship is invaluable.”
Being mentor has been part of Jay Lucas’ life growing up. He had the advantage of being around his father’s high school coaches Carl Ward and Coach Dale Craycraft as well as such successful veterans as Fairland’s Mayo and Dutey.
Ward won 10 West Virginia state championships at C-K.
“I went to state title games with Coach Ward and Coach Craycraft,” said Jay. “Coach Craycraft was an unbelievable man, a great Christian man. We went on through life, Coach Mayo took (Dave Lucas) and helped mentor him. And then (Dave) came to Coal Grove and Red Dutey was his mentor. I love Red Dutey. I knew him like he was my grandpa. I used to ride over to the board office on my tricycle and go in and talk to Coach Dutey. That was just part of it.”
That’s quite a collection of coaches to have as a teacher, but there was still one more. The year after leaving Coal Grove, Jay got to work at Chillicothe with Hall of Fame coach Ron Hinton who just retired this season.
Besides Lutz, Jay said that Chesapeake’s Phil Davis was always helpful and he actually spent one season working under Davis and it just happened to be the season the Panthers went 10-0 and reached the Regional Finals in the postseason playoffs.
“I went to Coach Lutz’s office once and asked him to show me what they did on defense. He looked around in his desk and said, ‘Come back tomorrow. I’ll have something for you.’ When I came back he gave me his playbook. I never dreamed he would do something like that,” said Jay.
“For me, Coach Lutz at Ironton and Coach Davis at Chesapeake was a sounding board of advice. All those guys who were around dad helped each other thrive to be better. Coach Lutz was always a great man to me. Coach Davis was a phenomenal man to be around. He was always great to be around.”
Dave Lucas said being around his son for the past 35 years as his coach and then coaching together has never created any conflicts.
“We see almost eye to eye on everything,” said Dave.
Jay Lucas agreed but he did see something a little different than his father.
“But in my eyes, obviously, the best that ever was was the old man. That’s just the way it is.”