Editor’s Note: ‘Setzer’s solution’ will appear in Saturday’s print and online editions.
The Robesonian’s Brad Crawford sat down with two-time Robeson County Coach of the Year Mike Setzer Wednesday afternoon to discuss the future of Lumberton High football. Here’s the introductory conversation in its entirety:
What made Lumberton an intriguing job for you coming off a 1-10 season?
It’s my community. Some of these kids I’ve seen grow up and I’ve coached in the past. I’m involved with this community. When I say that, I’m mean I’m a member of a lot of committees, involved with churches … I’m just not passing through. When the job came open, it just gave me another avenue and chance to get involved and make an impact in the community and make a positive change.
Knowing you are going to be able to pick from a group of 2,200 students (at Lumberton) instead of the 2A enrollment numbers at St. Pauls, what’s the biggest difference there?
When I first coached here, after that first class change, it felt like five schools were letting out. I’ve been here and understand how things work. The number of kids isn’t scary, but rather exciting. I’ve been the kind of coach that can get a lot of kids out to play.
The football coach at a 4A program is the figurehead across all athletics with a ton of responsibilities. What will you tell the 26 rising seniors returning on next season’s team having to play for their fourth head coach?
I need the seniors to understand I have their back. I’m not just trying to ship them out. A lot of times, you hear about coaches with the ‘those aren’t my guys’ mindset, so they focus on the underclassmen. I don’t want that. I want our seniors to go out with a bang. My job is to let them know we’re all in and that this season is more important for them than anyone else on the team.
What would you say your philosophies are as far as offensive and defensive scheme? Your style of coaching?
I’m a player’s coach. I do aspire to set rules and things like that, but there’s been plays that we’ve had success in games with during what we call ‘fun’ period. We come up with some plays from kids. When you get a kid involved, they’re excited. We do follow schemes on offense and defense, but what’s important is judging your athletes. If you’re looking at me to be one formation type of coach for the next 10 years, it’s not going to be that way. At one point in time at St. Pauls we ran three different offenses at the same time. We’re going to run and throw.
On changes to the Lumberton coaching staff:
I plan on bringing some other coaches in, but nobody from St. Pauls. I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the current staff and thought it would be disrespectful to meet with coaches until I got named head coach. The exam schedule has put a damper on meeting these guys and getting to talk to them, but what I most excited about is the good staff already in place. My biggest and hardest job as the head coach is getting everybody on the same page. I’ve got a lot of guys with experience and that goes a long way. They know the kids and know the game. I know some of the coaches already and their philosophy is what I like.
You called this program a ‘sleeping giant’ on Facebook and we’ve heard that before from many first-year coaches. Why would you consider Lumberton a sleeping giant?
The reason why is because I was here before and coach (Mike) Brill was very, very successful as was coach (Jeff) Smouse. What I’m saying is, I really believe every high school in the state has the opportunity to win a state championship but it’s just getting the job at the right time. With 2,500 kids, there’s 11 football players walking around in there. My personality will be able to get kids who maybe passed on other guys to get them out here and believe. If I get kids out here that enjoy the game, we’re a sleeping giant.
How much will your hands be in Lumberton’s Youth Football Association?
My last job at West Caldwell we had what was called the Optimist League. The schools ran everything that we ran. I ran a camp for many years back home and love working with kids. All my three sons went through LFA and I want my assistants to also have a hand in helping me with that. I always tell our former players about the younger kids and how important it is that they’re role models for them.
Follow Robeson County football happenings via Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.