Rich Lunsford was influenced greatly by his high school football coach, Kirk Kennedy. The 1998 Lowell grad knew what he wanted to do with his life playing for Kennedy's Red Devils.
That dream came true on Wednesday night when Lunsford was approved by the Lake Station administration to become the Eagles head football coach.
Lunsford replaces Mike Hepp, who was 29-63 in nine years on the job at Edison in two different coaching tenures. Hepp's contract was not renewed after a 2-8 campaign last autumn.
"(Kennedy) has a great influence on me in regards to football and life," Lunsford said. "He was a great motivator who talked about hard work and responsibility. That's what I want to bring to Lake Station."
Lunsford played football at Lowell from 1994 through '97. He then played college football at St. Joseph's. He was an assistant coach at Kankakee Valley for four years and has been at Lake Station for three years.
Lunsford has one plan for the program that has struggled over the last decade, numbers. The Eagles finished last season with 17 players in uniform.
"The No. 1 plan is numbers, we have to get them up," Lunsford said. "I'm going to have recruit the hallways, get the excitement and energy up for football."
Also a track coach at the school, Lunsford said he has 27 boys out for track, which is a recent high, and he hopes that carries over to football.
He credited Hepp for laying a solid foundation with a younger group of players who've shown promise.
"We just have to keep those guys going and get some other kids in around them to help us all out," he said.