Lexington Christian Academy's injury-riddled football team went 1-10 this season, and it wound up costing Ray Graham his job as coach.
"They terminated my services," Graham said. "It was a big shock to me. I'd been told all year we were doing a real good job considering all the adversity we went through.
"I couldn't have been prouder of our coaches and players. They held together, gave great effort and showed a lot of heart."
Graham, who coached at Harrison County for 25 years, joined Paul Rains' staff at LCA in 2008 and was part of the Eagles' 2009 state title team.
In the spring of 2010, Graham took the head coaching job at Henry County. But not for long. When Rains decided to leave LCA early that summer, Graham chose to return to LCA as head coach.
The Eagles went 10-4 that season, losing to Hazard 31-30 in the Class A semifinals. In 2011 they moved up to Class 2A's tougher competition and went 6-7. LCA was hobbled by key injuries in 2012 and finished 6-6.
This season was a nightmare because of injuries. The Eagles' already thin roster lost standout fullback Nick Whitman to a broken foot in the third game. Veteran quarterback Dima Ballard was sidelined with a knee injury the next week. Several other key players, including Ryder Brown, Nathan Brittain and Dylan Lancaster, missed games because of injuries.
"We knew we were in a tough predicament playing a tough schedule," Graham said. "But we never made excuses. We took on great challenges. When you play football against bigger, more physical schools, it's going to take a toll.
"But I thought our players grew as young men."
Graham, who has 220 career victories, isn't ready to give up coaching.
"I have a passion for this game and I've got plenty of coaching left in me," he said. "I'm a very youthful 60, with all kinds of vim and vigor. I'm ready for the next challenge in this game I love."
LCA superintendent Julie Giardino said in an email that the school "elected not to renew" Graham's contract, but beyond that LCA does not make public comments on personnel decisions.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.