High School Sports

Patience pays off in promotion for new Lafayette football coach Shaw

Eric Shaw is the new head football coach at Lafayette High School.
Eric Shaw is the new head football coach at Lafayette High School.

Eric Shaw, Lafayette's new head football coach, doesn't have to raise his voice or throw a clipboard to get his players' attention.

"I'm not a screamer. I've never been a screamer," Shaw said. "I'm a very intense individual, but I try to stay in control of my emotions."

A former NFL linebacker, Shaw can be an intimidating presence. He can communicate sternly with a certain look or body language.

"He's a big dude," said Lafayette senior linebacker Reagan Schlegel. "He doesn't have to scream. When he tells you to do something, you say, 'Yes, sir,' and do it."

Shaw's coaching style is nothing new to the Generals. In the past 12 years he was an assistant to Lafayette coaches Mike Harmon, Rob Sayre and Carl Hayden before taking over the top spot when Hayden resigned a few weeks ago to take an administrative job in town.

Shaw was in no rush to be the boss.

"First I wanted to understand how to be a coach and how to be good at it," he said. "It wasn't until about four years ago that I started thinking about putting my own spin on a program, and I didn't think about doing that anywhere else but here."

Hayden recommended Shaw as his successor, and the Lafayette administration gave him the job.

"It's all about timing," Shaw said. "It's just my turn."

As a former linebacker and defensive coordinator, Shaw is naturally attuned to that side of the ball.

"I'm a defensive guy first, and I've taken pride in the defense that has helped Lafayette be successful," he said. "I'm not saying it's been because of me, but defense has always been the focus of this program. But being defensive-minded also means understanding what the offense is doing."

Shaw's football philosophy is simple: "Always be very aggressive and very physical."

That's what made Shaw a great player, in high school in Pensacola, Fla. (where he went up against Emmitt Smith and tutored Derrick Brooks, both of whom went on to become NFL stars), in college at Louisiana Tech and in the pros with the Cincinnati Bengals.

He was barely 20 when he made it to the NFL, and he remembers his three-year career (1992-94) in Cincy "as a very hard time in my life. I was the youngest player in the league when I got there, and I wasn't used to losing.

"It was all about business, not about the love of the game anymore.

"It was a bad time, but also a good time because I've been able to share my experiences with these kids."

Those kids include Shaw's own sons: Enrique and Eric Jr. were standout football players for Lafayette; Enrico played basketball for Bluegrass Baptist; Evan is a junior linebacker for the Generals, and Ean is a promising eighth-grader.

While Shaw is proud to have been part of Lafayette's re-emergence as a winning program over the last decade, he wants to push the Generals to a higher ranking.

"I don't think we've seen the best here yet," he said.


Lexington's head football coaches since 1993:

Bryan Station: Dan Cassity, John Nochta, Norm Powell, Traye Moore, Oliver Lucas, Kenny Turner, Craig Yeast, Frank Parks.

Henry Clay: Sam Simpson.

Lafayette: Terry Clark, Don Young, Donald Smith, Mike Harmon, Rob Sayre, Carl Hayden, Eric Shaw.

Lexington Catholic: Bob Sphire, Bill Letton.

Lexington Christian: Dave Garrett, Paul Rains, Ray Graham.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Mike Meighan, Mark Peach, Fred Barnott, David Hensley, Jason Howell, Bob Lawson, Derrick Thomas, Paul Rains.

Tates Creek: Joe Ruddell, Mark Willoughby, Mike Harmon.