For just the second time in its history, Long Reach High School will have a new football coach.
Pete Hughes, who coached the Lightning for its inaugural season, in 1996, until this season, announced on Monday that he is stepping down as head coach.
"Last year I decided coming into the season that it was going to be my last year," said Hughes, who coached the Lightning to playoff appearances in 1997, 2004 and 2005. "Seventeen years. I just needed to take a short break. I'm still young enough to coach, but I just wanted to take a break and get reenergized and get back into coaching as a coordinator in a year or two."
Hughes grew up in this area, graduating from Woodlawn High, where he played baseball and football.
He went on to play football collegiately for Division II Valley City State University in North Dakota. He graduated in 1981 after earning all-conference honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. As a senior he captained the conference championship Vikings and earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-America honors.
Before becoming head coach at Long Reach, he coached high school football in North Dakota, and then became defensive coordinator for ten years at Hammond High, where he also coached track.
In 2005, Hughes and Long Reach won the county championship.
And in 15 of his 17 seasons, Hughes coached the Lightning to a .500 record or better. The two losing seasons were in 1996, the team's inaugural season, and this year, when Long Reach finished 3-7.
Season highlights this year for Long Reach included upsetting defending county champion Atholton, 13-12, in early September, and closing out the season with a 47-22 win over Centennial. Atholton finished the season 9-1 to earn the No. 2 seed in the upcoming 3A East playoffs.
"I wish we'd had a better season, I was hoping we could make the playoffs," Hughes said. "3-7. But we won the last one."
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