Dec 19, 2012
East Lincoln coach Mike Byus followed an unbeaten run to a state championship by being named The Associated Press high school football coach of the year for North Carolina for the 2012 season.
Byus led the school to its first state title in football, completing the run with a win against three-time defending champion Tarboro in the Class 2-A final.
"The right place, the right time, the right group of kids combined with the right coaching staff," Byus said. "If you do something like this, obviously you get a break here and there. You can't do something like that without getting the breaks to bounce your way a few times."
Byus earned 10 of a possible 17 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Tuesday. Matthews Butler's Brian Hales was second with three votes after guiding the Bulldogs (15-0) to a third 4-AA championship in four seasons.
Madison County's Mark Gosnell was third with two votes — the only other coach to receive more than one vote — after guiding the program to a school-record 13 victories.
Byus, 51, is in his eighth season at East Lincoln (16-0), which averaged nearly 41 points per game and won games by an average margin of 24 points. The team continued to thrive all season, even after losing senior quarterback Garrett Young for two games due to a knee injury.
East Lincoln trailed only three times all season, the last coming in the 2-A final before scoring the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
East Lincoln led Tarboro 17-6 at half of the state final before giving up 14 straight points in the third quarter and falling behind. But the Mustangs responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Young's 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Brock with 7:55 left and ultimately gave East Lincoln the championship.
Byus credited his players, saying they always put in the work to prepare for any opponent.
"I talked to them all year about reaching their ceiling," Byus said. "I said, 'Guys, I don't know how good we can be, but I want you to be as good as you can be.' ... So after the (final) game, my quarterback came up to me and said, 'Hey coach, did we reach our ceiling?' I said, 'I think we pretty much did about all we could do.'"