High School Football

New coaches at Lafayette, LCA make smooth transition

Lafayette football coach Carl Hayden (2010)
Lafayette football coach Carl Hayden (2010)

It's been the same ol' same ol' pre-season football practices for Lafayette and Lexington Christian Academy this summer.

That's a good thing.

It's hardly noticeable that both schools changed head coaches recently, with Carl Hayden taking over at Lafayette and Ray Graham at LCA.

"The way it worked out was best for the kids because there was no big transition, no big upheaval," said Hayden, who was promoted from assistant to interim head coach after Rob Sayre resigned in late June to take an administrative position at Lafayette.

"We've got the same coaches with the same philosophy running the same plays," Hayden said. "The kids didn't have to worry about things getting crazy."

Ditto at LCA.

Graham, an Eagles' assistant the last two years after a long career as head coach at Harrison County, stepped in to replace Paul Rains, who built LCA into a state power.

Rains resigned the last week of June, citing personal and family issues. He had been the Eagles' coach for seven years, capped by a Class A state title last fall.

Rains' choice to replace him was Graham. But there was a catch. In February, Graham took the head coaching job at Henry County and spent the last few months getting to know the Wildcats.

But when the opportunity arose to return to LCA, he couldn't turn it down.

"Henry County is a wonderful place with wonderful people, but I know I'm supposed to be here at LCA," Graham said. "In my heart, I know this is the best thing for me and this football team."

Graham shares Rains' nuts-and-bolts football philosophy, so the Eagles' pre-season has been a smooth transition. Being in charge is nothing new to Graham. He has 196 career wins as a head coach, including 25 years at Harrison County.

Hayden, on the other hand, is getting his first taste of being in charge. Sayre is confident his former assistant is up to the job. That's why he suggested to Lafayette principal Vicki Ritchie that Hayden was the right man to take over the Generals' program just before pre-season practice began.

"Carl's a leader," Sayre said. "He's very intelligent, very well organized, and a high-energy guy.

"His ultimate goal is make the kids better people and better players so, for me, it was an easy recommendation."

Hayden, 27, played high school ball at Huber Heights, Ohio, and college ball at Eastern Kentucky.

This will be his fifth season at Lafayette, where he started as freshman coach and last year worked his way up to assistant head coach.

Hayden said it's always been in the back of his mind to be the main man on the sidelines, "but it's kind of like a dream when it happens.

"I'm lucky that we've got a great staff here. We've been together for a while, so we're close and we're confident in each other."

Besides getting a new coach, Lafayette will move into a new stadium sometime this fall after playing all of its games on the road last year.

Wherever they play, Sayre will be there to cheer. "I told them the person screaming the loudest in the stands will be me," he said.

Likewise, LCA's former coach will be among its most ardent fans. Rains' son Austin plays for the Eagles, and Rains said he's looking forward to being "just a dad" on Friday nights this fall.