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The new Lancaster High School head football coach will be selected from a field of 53 applicants.
Lancaster High School officials, as part of the early hiring process, cut off applications Friday, Jan. 17.
“We feel we have a quality field of applicants, a good mix of candidates who are head coaches and some who are assistant coaches from quality high school football programs,” Lancaster High School athletic director Mark Strickland said. “We also have some applicants with college coaching experience.”
He noted the majority of the candidates are from the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia.
Strickland said the screening of the applicants is the next step in the process, with interviews set up “over the next couple of weeks.”
He said he would like to narrow the field down and interview “between eight and 10 candidates.”
“We hope to have a new coach here by the end of February,” Strickland said. “I met with our returning football players last week and I told them we are committed to hiring a quality coach. We would like to have a coach come in and start right away, so he could begin working with our program and set up a weight program and spring practice.”
The job became vacant Dec. 4 when former LHS coach Bennie McMurray, 64, announced his retirement from coaching. McMurray’s 38-year coaching career began at Buford High School as a Jackets’ football assistant and baseball coach.
He spent his final eight years in Lancaster where he compiled a 39-54 mark with three winning seasons and three postseason bids. McMurray guided the 2008 Bruins to a 10-4 record and a Class AAAA state semifinal finish.
McMurray also coached at Lewisville High School in neighboring Richburg of Chester County, and E.E. Waddell High School in Charlotte where he coached before coming to Lancaster, his hometown.
McMurray, in 27 seasons as a head coach, posted a 218-127 record.
McMurray, in 14 years at Lewisville, led the Lions to a 145-42 record, three Class A state football championships and two state runner-up finishes.
The new Bruins’ head coach will inherit a team which posted a 2-9 record for the second straight season and failed to win a region game in its last season in Region III-AAAA which produced the 2013 Class AAAA Div. II state champion in Northwestern High School of Rock Hill.
Lancaster will be moving into the Class AAA ranks and compete in a region which will feature Broome, Chester, Clinton, Union and South Pointe. South Pointe, like LHS, will be moving from Region III-AAAA next season.
McMurray followed former LHS coach Johnny Roscoe, who coached at Lancaster for 21 seasons – the longest tenure for a LHS head coach. He was 135-122 at LHS, which included two Class AAAA state championship game appearances in 1989 and 1990. The Bruins, under Roscoe, had 12 winning seasons and earned 16 playoff bids.
Roscoe replaced Creig Tyler as the Bruins’ head coach in 1985. Tyler retired as principal at Lexington High School in June, 2011.
The new Bruins coach will be the ninth at LHS since the 1960 season.
Lancaster opens it 2014 season Aug. 29 when the Bruins host county rival Andrew Jackson.
LHS will also host the annual Founders Kickoff Classic, the preseason scrimmage which is slated to be played at Memorial Stadium Aug. 22.