Mick Luckhurst appears to be Ted Lasso in reverse.
Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis in the fictional TV show, is an American mid-major college football coach who moves across the Atlantic to become coach of an English soccer team, even though he knows nothing about the international version of football.
Luckhurst grew up playing soccer in England, came to the United States to attend college, and was recruited to play American football as a placekicker. The first time he practiced, he used the kneepad from his football pants as a kicking tee.
“As little as [Lasso] knew about English football, it would be a good race to see if I knew less about American football than he did soccer,” Luckhurst said.
Although he had a productive career as a kicker at Cal and with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Luckhurst said he is still somewhat mystified by the complex formulations of offense and defense in a game broken up by numerous timeouts.
But he does know how to attack a ball with a foot, and he’s taught the skill to his three sons. For that, Bishop Diego High head football coach Tom Crawford is grateful.
For the past seven years, Crawford has not worried about the kicking game, because the Luckhurst boys have been booming kickoffs, punts, conversion kicks, and field goals.
The two older boys are both at South Carolina ― Jack Luckhurst (2019 Bishop grad) a redshirt kicker after transferring from Arizona State; Adam Luckhurst (2020) a sophomore forward on the soccer team.
Michael Luckhurst has entered his senior year at Bishop as the family’s most complete football player. He is the starting quarterback on a team that has outscored its first three opponents, 133-17, and he has shown a powerful leg.
Although he has yet to make a field goal as long as Jack’s 51-yarder or Adam’s 44-yarder, Michael came close from 60 yards in Bishop’s season opener against Oxnard. He drove the ball high enough and far enough, but it drifted wide of the left goalpost at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium, where the Cardinals play their home games.
That’s significant, because the college posts are 18′6″ apart. High school posts have a width of 23′4″ — almost five extra feet of room that probably would have been split by Luckhurst’s long attempt. In the right situation and with perfect execution by long snapper Marcus Chan and holder Hunter Boeddeker, a Luckhurst milestone could happen.
Incidentally, the state prep record for the longest field goal is 64 yards, set by Erik Affholter of Oak Park High against visiting Carpinteria on October 16, 1982. Like Affholter, who was an outstanding receiver at USC, Michael Luckhurst is an exceptional athlete. He does not take to the air often, but when he does strike, it’s for big yardage — 242 yards on 10 completions, five going for touchdowns.
In the winter season, Luckhurst plays soccer, which happens to be coached at Bishop Diego by his father. Despite his British accent, Mick Luckhurst seems more like Ted Lasso than a typical English coach. “I believe in ‘Believe,’” says Lasso, who displays the word on a sign in the locker room.
“I love the motivational things Lasso says,” coach Luckhurst said. “I try to remind the boys, in both soccer and football, that everything we do on the field is relatively unimportant, but that in no way takes away from your competitiveness. Anybody who’s watched me knows I’m competitive, but as soon as the final whistle’s gone, win or lose — what did we learn? What do we take from that? And we move on.
“I’m a strong believer in attitude,” he added. “A positive attitude goes a long way. The first thing I told the soccer team — you’ve got to have each other’s back. It’s not a matter of who’s the best or the worst player; it’s your team. Walking around campus, have a great attitude.”
Michael Luckhurst said, “Ted Lasso reminds me of Dad. At Bishop, we might not know the most about soccer or be the best at soccer, but we’re going to give it to them. We’ll play with the biggest hearts out there.”
Michael (6′3″ and 179 pounds) enjoys roughing it up in both football and soccer. “Football is really physical maybe 10 times a game for a person,” he said, “but soccer is physical 35 times. I don’t know which one I like more, but I want to play football in college.”
Bishop’s football team, ranked No. 26 in the CIF Southern Section and No. 44 in California, is scheduled to host the Galena Grizzlies of Reno, Nevada, at La Playa Stadium on Saturday, September 25, at 2 p.m.