Former JV head coach Casey Higginbotham takes over as the varsity head coach after Mendonca’s resignation
LINDSAY – There’s a new sheriff in town for the Lindsay football program, but it is a very familiar face. On March 9, former police officer and junior varsity head coach Casey Higginbotham was named the new varsity head coach after Matt Mendonca resigned from the position.
Higginbotham is more than familiar with the city of Lindsay and its varsity football program. He is heading into his ninth year of coaching at the school. He spent the last five years as a varsity position coach and the last four years as the junior varsity head coach.
“[The kids] know me, I’ve coached every kid that’s in the program. We know what to expect from each other and we’re familiar with each other,” Higginbotham said.
In addition to his coaching experience, he was also raised in town and played on the football team before graduating in 1995. He went on to play at the College of the Sequoias and then began his coaching career at Tulare Western. He spent one season there and then went on to coach at Lindsay for three seasons. In 2000, he went into the police academy and spent 17 years as a police officer. 12 of those years were with the Lindsay Police Department and he spent a lot of time working at local schools.
“A lot of the kids know me as the school cop,” Higginbotham said.
When Lindsay’s former head coach Matt Mendonca arrived at the school, he recruited Higginbotham to help him out and that’s when he began his second stretch as a coach.
“That was my top goal in coaching, to be head varsity coach at Lindsay. Being able to have it happen here means a lot to me,” he said.
Soon after Higginbotham assumed the job, school closed due to the ongoing pandemic. Determined to stay in touch with his players, the football team holds weekly conference calls on Zoom. He also uses the Remind app to communicate with each player. Normally, this is the time of year where teams start installing their playbooks and playing in 7-on-7 tournaments.
“If we can’t start until August then it’ll be hard because we lose all of that time to teach the kids,” Higginbotham said.
Nonetheless, the new head coach is looking forward to maintaining the team’s culture and positive momentum. The Cardinals are coming off of a 9-4 season where they were one touchdown shy of a Valley championship appearance. However for Higginbotham, his relationship with the community is just as important as the wins and losses. He hopes to get the community and his team more involved with each other.
“I want [our games] to be the thing on Friday nights that people in the community want to come out to,” he said.