Lenoir Rhyne University Championship Football

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Mike Houston Isaiah WhitakerMike Houston, head football coach at Lenoir Rhyne University spoke to the Hickory Rotary Club today. Coach Houston just finished his second year as Lenoir-Rhyne’s Head Football Coach in 2012. Accompanying Coach Houston was 2012 NCAA Division II All-American First Team fullback Isiah Whitaker.

In 2012, Houston led Lenoir-Rhyne to its second straight South Atlantic Conference Championship and first outright league title since 1975.

Houston guided the Bears to a 9-3 overall mark (6-1 in league play) and a berth in the postseason for the first time in 50 years. Lenoir-Rhyne also won its first playoff game since 1962 (a 21-6 win over Fort Valley State) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Houston, who is now 16-6 overall as Bear mentor, earned SAC Coach-Of-The-Year honors for the second time in as many seasons with Lenoir-Rhyne.

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.LRU Champs

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.

Three 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 poiLRU Football 2nts 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”.

2012 Season Highlights

• Led football program to its first outright conference championship since 1975. First back-to-back SAC championships in school history.

• Earned first postseason playoff berth in 50 years and first-ever NCAA Division II Playoff birth. Won first NCAA Division II Playoff Game in school history (21-6 over Fort Valley State in first round).

• Named 2012 South Atlantic Conference Coach Of The Year.

• Won the most games in a season since 1962 (nine).

• Eight-game winning streak was the longest since 1962.

• Led South Atlantic Conference in scoring defense (13th in NCAA D-II).

• Led South Atlantic Conference in rushing defense.

• Led South Atlantic Conference in turnovers forced and turnover margin (fifth in NCAA D-II in both).

• Led South Atlantic Conference in red zone defense (sixth in NCAA D-II) and red zone offense (seventh in NCAA).

• Led South Atlantic Conference in scoring offense in league games (39.1 ppg).

• Second in the nation (NCAA Division II) in rushing offense (376.2 ypg).

• Led South Atlantic Conference in home attendance (7,135 per game).

• Went undefeated at home for the second straight season

• Had eleven players named to the all-conference teams which led all SAC schools and had two all-region honorees.

• Had Jacobs Blocking Trophy award winner for best offensive lineman in the league for the third straight season (Kaleb Myrick)

• Had 23 players named to the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll (3.30 GPA or higher) which led the conference in all sports


2011 Season Highlights

• Led football program to its first conference championship in 17 years.

• Named 2011 South Atlantic Conference Coach Of The Year.

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in scoring offense (33.6 ppg).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in scoring defense (22.6 ppg).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in total defense (ninth in NCAA D-II).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in rushing offense (third in NCAA D-II).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in rushing defense (seventh in NCAA D-II).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in punt reeturn average (fifth in NCAA D-II).

• Led the South Atlantic Conference in kickoff return average (fourth in NCAA D-II).

• Also led the South Atlantic Conference in opponent first downs, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense, third down conversions, field goals converted, time of possession and was the least penalized team in the conference (41.4 ypg, 10th in NCAA D-II).

• Had nine players selected to the All-South Atlantic Conference Football First and Second Teams.

• Had the Defensive Player of the Year in the South Altantic Conference for the second year in a row (Demetrius Green).

• Had Jacobs Blocking Trophy Award Winner for the second year in a row (Chandler Rearden)

• Had four players garner all-region accolades.

• Had two players earn All-American honors (Chandler Rearden and Michael Green).

• Beat three teams that were ranked in the Top 25 in the country at the time and beat two NCAA Division II Playoff Teams on the road.

• Went undefeated at home (Moretz Stadium).

Lenoir Rhyne University Football Coaching Staff

LRU Football Coaches (large)

Head Coach: Mike Houston (Mars Hill, 1994), Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach: Brent Thompson (Norwich (Vt.), 1998), Offensive Line: Ron Boyd (West Virginia Wesleyan, 1992), Inside Linebackers & Special Teams Coach: Blake Harrell (Western Carolina, 2002), Defensive Line Coach & Director of Operations: Roy Tesh (Greensboro, 2004), Defensive Graduate Assistant: Jeb Bass (Catawba, 2012), Outside Linebackers Coach & Academic Coordinator: Aaron Brock (Alma College, 1997), NFL Intern & Fullbacks Coach: Shawn Bryson (Tennessee, 2011), Wide Receivers Coach: Chris Coleman (North Carolina State, 2000), Running Backs & Recruiting Coordinator: Lou Conte (Springfield (Mass.), 2005), Secondary Coach: Brandon Lynch (Middle Tennessee State, 2006), Video Coordinator: Brad McClaugherty (Lenoir-Rhyne, 2010), Graduate Assistant, Offensive Line: Chandler Rearden (Lenoir-Rhyne, 2012), Cornerbacks Coach: Tarron Williams (Gardner-Webb, 2009)

 Lenoir Rhyne University Football 2013 Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time
Sep. 7, 2013 Concord Hickory, NC 7:00 PM.
Sep. 14, 2013 @ Davidson Davidson, NC 7:00 PM
Sep. 21, 2013 WINGATE (Family Weekend)* Hickory, NC 7:00 PM
Sep. 28, 2013 @ TUSCULUM* Greeneville, TN 2:30 PM
Oct. 5, 2013 BREVARD (Homecoming)* Hickory, NC 2:00 PM
Oct. 12, 2013 @ North Greenville Tigerville, SC TBA
Oct. 19, 2013 NEWBERRY* Hickory, NC 2:00 PM
Oct. 26, 2013 @ MARS HILL* Mars Hill, NC 1:00 PM
Nov. 2, 2013 CARSON-NEWMAN* Hickory, NC 2:00 PM
Nov. 9, 2013 Alderson-Broaddus Hickory, NC NOON
Nov. 16, 2013 @ CATAWBA* Salisbury, NC 1:30 PM

Home games are in bold.
* – indicates South Atlantic Conference event

For more information, visit LRU Athletics.

General Info

  • Meeting Time:
    Thursdays from 12:00PM to 1:15PM
  • Meeting Location:
    430 17th Avenue NW,
    Hickory, North Carolina 28601