South Lyon football coach's resignation raises questions

David Goricki
The Detroit News

So, what happened with South Lyon’s football program?

South Lyon was coming off a state playoff appearance and conference championship win over Canton last year, and off to a 2-0 start this season when head coach Mark Thomas was suddenly absent  from the sidelines in Weeks No. 3 and 4.

Then Monday,  Thomas resigned after 12 years as head coach.

Assistant Jeff Henson, a former head coach at Lincoln Park,  will serve as interim coach, the school district said.

"We appreciate (Thomas') years of service with the football program and support of our school community," said Maureen Altermatt, assistant superintendent for Administrative Services of South Lyon Community Schools in an emailed statement. "We anticipate Coach Thomas will continue to be involved in events such as the Red Out and Victory Day, as he was involved in bringing these traditions to SLHS."

The statement made no mention of what led to Thomas' resignation.

Thomas also declined to elaborate.

“You know I can’t comment on it (reason of his resignation), but I have had great pleasure (in coaching)," Thomas said in a text to The News. "Sometimes you have to do what you believe is right.”

It wasn’t long ago that South Lyon players and Thomas were smiling while showing off the conference championship trophy they had just won after defeating perennial state power Canton. Last year, the Lions finished 8-2 with a playoff loss to Walled Lake Western, 14-13.

Thomas, 60, was in his 24th season as a football coach at South Lyon, including his 12th of leading the program. He has a 233-125 career record as head coach, ranking him in a tie for 33rd place in state history.

Thomas led the Lions to a 10-3 record and Division 1 state semifinal appearance in his first season as head coach at South Lyon in 2004 and three state playoff appearances in the last four years. He also coached at Harbor Beach for 14 years, making it 38 years of coaching.

“Yes, 38 years and I was and am still passionate about the sport of football,” Thomas said. 
Thomas plans to remain as a teacher in the South Lyon school district.

South Lyon (2-2) will play at 4-0 Livonia Stevenson in a Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central Division game Friday night.