The featured speaker at the Thursday, July 19th meeting of the Hickory Rotary Club was Lenoir-Rhyne University Head Football Coach Mike Houston. Mike is entering his second year as Lenoir-Rhyne’s Head Football Coach this fall.
In his first season at the helm in 2011, Houston led L-R to a 7-3 record (6-1 in the South Atlantic Conference) and guided the Bears to their first league championship since 1994. For his efforts, Houston was named the SAC Co-Coach Of The Year.
In addition, Houston remained in charge of the Bears’ defense which once again led the conference in total yards allowed (284.4 ypg), 10th-best in the nation.
Houston became the 18th Head Football Coach in Lenoir-Rhyne’s history when he was hired on May 9, 2011.
Before being elevated to head coach, Houston was the Bears’ Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach for four seasons (2007-10). Under Houston’s leadership, the Bears’ defense had one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2010.
Two years ago, Lenoir-Rhyne led the South Atlantic Conference in total defense (276.6 ypg) and finished fourth in NCAA Division II in rushing defense (75.7 ypg). In addition, senior defensive back Marcus Shuford (Newton, N.C.) became the third player in school history to win league defensive player-of-the-year honors.
On February 4, 2010, Houston was elevated to Assistant Head Coach.
Houston came to Lenoir-Rhyne after spending one year (2006) as the Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator at Brevard College.
At Brevard, Houston was part of a staff that re-established football after a 56-year absence. The 2006 Tornado squad won two games while playing a roster comprised of true freshman.
Prior to Brevard, Houston served as the Head Coach at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, N.C., from 2001-05. Under Houston, T.C. Roberson went 42-18 (5-4 in the playoffs) and was a two-time Times-News Area Coach Of The Year (2002 and ’04).
Houston was also named an Assistant Coach for the 2005 North Carolina Shrine Bowl staff and helped lead North Carolina to a 28-24 win over South Carolina.
Houston’s 2004 T.C. Roberson squad was his best-ever, as the team went through the regular season undefeated and finished 13-1 before losing in the state semifinals. The 2004 team averaged 38 points per game while allowing just nine points per outing as it won its first-ever conference championship in school history.
Houston left T.C. Roberson with the highest winning percentage of any coach in school history and helped establish the Rams as one of the top football programs in the state of North Carolina.
Houston, who was a 2005 Shrine Bowl Assistant Coach, spent five years as T.C. Roberson’s Defensive Coordinator (1996-2000) before taking over the head job.
Houston started his coaching career at Forbush High School in East Bend, N.C., where he served as Falcons’ Defensive Coordinator (1994-95).
Houston is a 1994 graduate of Mars Hill College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and played tight end on the Lions’ football squad.