Mike Lunsford is hanging up his head coaching whistle.
The longtime head coach has announced his intention to retire as the head coach of the Cloudland football and girls basketball programs. Lunsford informed both teams of his decision on Tuesday.
Replacements were not immediately named following Lunsford’s announcement.
“I’ve coached for 39 years,” Lunsford said. “It’s time for a little rest with nothing to do. I am going to miss coaching. I am not saying I won’t coach again but doubt I will be head coach or a coordinator again.”
“The pressure is off,” Lunsford said. “Coaching is harder then it was 10 years ago – it is a different animal.”
Lunsford is known first and foremost as a football coach around the area and state. He coached the Highlander football program in two stints – one that spanned for 15 seasons before departing in 2003 and again the last three years. At the helm of the Cloudland programs, Lunsford led the ‘Landers to 159-53 record at the school as well as a state runner-up finish in 2001.
Cloudland won the Region 1-A title each of the past three seasons under Lunsford. This season, the ‘Landers rolled to a 9-3 record with all three losses coming by a combined 23 points. The ‘Landers saw their season come to an end in a heartbreaking fashion as Coalfield scored in the closing minute to take a 29-24 victory in the second round of the playoffs.
For his career, Lunsford finishes with a mark of 225-68. At Hampton, the Bulldogs tallied a 66-15 mark with Lunsford at the helm – including a state semifinal berth his final season with a 13-1 mark.
Lunsford also coached the girls basketball program the past two seasons and led the Lady ‘Landers to a 45-21 record. Cloudland saw their season come to an end in the Region 1-A semifinals this year and reached sectionals last year.
It was Lunsford’s second stint as head coach of the girls basketball program.
“I want thank Ladonna Boone, Lisa Benfield and the school for the opportunity to coach here again,” Lunsford said. “When I took the job here, I was hoping to stay to get my 300th win, but things didn’t turn out that way. The kids here are some of the best kids on Earth.”
While there is no set timeline to announce the new head coaches of both programs, Carter County Schools are expected to post both coaching positions. If posted, there is a mandated 10-day period they must remain posted with interviews to quickly follow.