Former LHS grad in as Cardinals’ new varsity head coach
A familiar face is taking over the reins of Lindsay High School’s football program.
Casey Higginbotham is the Cardinals’ new varsity head football coach after spending the last four years as the program’s junior varsity coach, as well as a varsity position coach for the past five.
“To me it’s a dream job,” said Higginbotham. “I get to coach football for my alma mater, give back to the community that raised me, and help the players (and) youth reach their potential.”
Higginbotham graduated from Lindsay in 1995 and played for both the Cardinals and the College of the Sequoias. After a year with the Giants, he started his coaching career as an assistant with Tulare Western then another year with Lindsay before becoming a police officer for the next 17 years. He is now also a teacher in the public safety and mock trial pathways for Lindsay.
Higginbotham came on as an assistant when Matt Mendonca became the Cardinals head coach in 2015. Mendonca resigned after the 2019 season and joined Reedley College's coaching staff, but he is still teaching at Lindsay.
The Cardinals retain most of their coaching staff under Higginbotham. Marcus Alonzo will be the team’s offensive coordinator while Higginbotham takes over as defensive coordinator for at least the first season.
“I love defense, I love playcalling,” he said. “It’s great, it’s fun. I’ll do it this year and then maybe let someone else take over. But I want to do it, it’s fun. I enjoy it.”
Lindsay is coming off its best season under Mendonca. The former coach led the team to a 9-4 finish with an appearance in the CIF Central Section Division VI semifinals. The team also defeated Strathmore in their annual rivalry Bell Game for the first time since 2013.
Higginbotham believes keeping that momentum heading into next season shouldn’t be a problem for the Cardinals.
“These guys are special,” Higginbotham said. “They really like playing with each other. They’re all good friends. Just keep that going. They’ve all seen the success. They know what to expect from the coaches, we know what to expect from the kids, and everybody communicates really well. So just keep that going.”
Prior to area schools closing down because of the coronavirus, Higginbotham said he did get a chance to talk to his football players after the appointment was made official in March.
“Of course all the kids know me,” he said. “Even though I just got the job, that’s a really good thing that I’ve known the kids. I’ve coached every one of those kids. So I got to talk to them. The kids were really excited about it. We’re staying in communication the best we can right now and working our way through this mess.”
Two of the ways the team is staying connected is through video conferencing app, Zoom, and school communication app, Remind. Through those means of communications, Higginbotham and his coaching staff have been able to go over workouts, plays and simply talk to each other.
On April 3, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced an early end to spring sports because of the virus but fall sports have yet to learn what will happen to their seasons or when they’ll begin. Until a decision is made, Higginbotham said he’s told his players to stay ready and to keep up their physical and mental well-being until they can play again.
“I’m just telling the kids to prepare for anything,” Higginbotham said. “We could have short weeks or we could get back in May, or maybe June, or maybe the end of July. I don’t want to give the kids a set time because I want them to be ready, ready to go whenever I tell them.”