Stacy Luker to take over Demopolis football program

Stacy Luker with his wife, Donna.

Stacy Luker with his wife, Donna.

The Demopolis City Schools Board of Education voted Friday to name Stacy Luker its next head football coach.

“It’s a continuation of some things that were already in place that were very important to us, like the Bible study for coaches, the Bible study for players, keeping the church activities going on Thursday night with feeding the players,” Demopolis High School principal Dr. Tony Speegle said of the decision to hire Luker, noting activities that were implemented by former head football coach Tom Causey.

Luker will take over a staff that includes his eldest son, Drew, who has coached linebackers at Demopolis for the past two seasons.

“That was definitely part of the pull,” Luker said of the role family played in drawing him to the job. “Location and it just being Demopolis. Demopolis is a football program. You’re talking about a well-respected 5A program throughout the state of Alabama. It’s a good pull just because of who they are. This is my fifth head football stop and this is the first time that I’ll be walking into a dressing room and I won’t feel like it’s broken down. Tom has done such a good job with it and Doug before him. The football program is not broken down and that excites me.”

The Demopolis job opened up on Dec. 17 when Causey announced his intent to take the head coach job at Pelham High School.

“I think any challenge of a new job is winning the dressing room when you get there. That’s going to be a challenge ahead of me, getting to know the kids and the coaches and the dressing room,” Luker said. “But, like I said, it’s not broken down. You don’t have the challenge of changing the attitude from a losing attitude to a winning attitude, which is good.”

pic - lukerLuker will end his retirement as an Alabama football coach after just one year in order to take the Demopolis job. Luker announced his retirement from Sweet Water in Jan., 2014 before taking over football coaching at Neshoba Central in Mississippi.

Luker started his career at Washington County in 1995 before moving on to Thomasville and ultimately building his legacy at his alma mater in Sweet Water.

Luker is 171-66 in 19 seasons as a head coach in the Alabama High School Athletic Association with 131 of those wins coming in 12 seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs program.

“The amount of success that he has had is an indication that he hasn’t always had the best talent in the state but he got the most out of his players,” Speegle said. “He has done it. He has done it the right way. He has sustained it.”

Ten of those seasons came with Sweet Water at the Class 1A level. During that span, Luker guided the Bulldogs to five state championships (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010) in seven seasons.

“He believes in the little things, hard work, dedication, commitment. He has been loyal where he has been. Tradition is important. He has established a tradition. He has kept that going,” Speegle said. “It is real important to us that we had somebody that knew that tradition would be important to this community and this school system.”

Demopolis High School principal Dr. Tony Speegle, new head football coach and athletic director Stacy Luker and Demopolis Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin.

Demopolis High School principal Dr. Tony Speegle, new head football coach and athletic director Stacy Luker and Demopolis Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin.

Luker developed familiarity with the Demopolis program while he was at Sweet Water. The Bulldogs and Tigers would regularly scrimmage one another during the summer months and met in a preseason Jamboree game for consecutive years near the end of Luker’s tenure with the Bulldogs.

“I think it’s going to help me a lot. I know the coaches. I know two or three of them a lot better than I do the others. I am familiar with who is on staff. I know some of the players. I know a lot of people at Demopolis. With Drew being there the last three years, I have obviously followed the program closely,” Luker said. “It’s got to help with the transition. I think that is one of the things working in my favor with the job during the interview process. I think the kids are familiar with who I am and I think that’s going to help.”

The Bulldogs jumped to Class 2A for the 2012 season, going 21-7 in two seasons under Luker at that level and bowing out in the state semi-finals each year.

Speegle noted the job posting drew applications from numerous well-known, established football coaches.

“It wound up being the best fit out of all of them. They were all really good candidates,” Speegle said. “There was no doubt the legacy that was left by the previous coaches really allowed us to get applicants that were quality, good people.”

Luker had a 6-5 record in his lone season at Neshoba.

“It was a good year. It was a good learning experience. I think it was good for me to work at a larger school as a head football coach. I guess I was able to put some of my strengths to the test there, some organizational type things and running a program,” Luker said of his brief time at Neshoba. “It is a school of about 950 in the top four grades. It was a very good experience for me, getting me prepared for this job.”

The move to Demopolis will allow Luker to experience some of the benefits of running a larger program that he did not typically have in Sweet Water.

“I guess it’s moving into a different element as far as the job is concerned, not really football. I felt like there were years that we were competitive with anybody 1-5A at Sweet Water. It’s not really from the football standpoint,” Luker said. “It’s the different elements of the job. I realize that larger schools offer things you don’t get at small schools. The number of assistants is one of those. Instead of working with three or four guys, you’re getting to work with eight to 10.”

Luker is expected to begin working at Demopolis later this month, at which point he will begin in earnest getting his program in order.

“Sometimes change is not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing for coaches and it’s not a bad thing for kids,” Luker said. “God challenges us to embrace change and that’s what is going to have to happen in this situation.”