Former Rockets defensive coordinator to lead program
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The UIL was kind enough to realign Kennedy’s district to a configuration that looks familiar to new Kennedy coach Mike Inco.
Back in the mid-1990s, when Inco was the Rockets’ defensive coordinator, their district opponents were many of the same teams Kennedy will face in District 27-5A this fall. Among the nine teams are perennial powerhouses Alamo Heights and Kerrville Tivy, so the competition might seem a tad scary, too.
Inco, who has coached at Trinity University the last 18 years, doesn’t seem concerned.
“The district we were in when I first came here was pretty much the same as it is now,” he said. “When we were going against the SAISD schools and Harlandale, we had success. It’s going to be a tougher challenge, obviously, but I think the kids will respond.”
Inco has taught and coached in Edgewood ISD for 23 years, so he’s well aware of his surroundings. He served as Memorial’s golf coach the last five years, in addition to being Trinity’s defensive line coach during the fall. He also has coached basketball, soccer, softball and track in the Edgewood district.
“I’ve always been kind of interested in being a head football coach,” Inco said, “but I didn’t push it, having been at Trinity so long. When the job opened up, I thought it could be a great opportunity. So I put my name in, and it worked out.”
Inco takes over the opening created when Richard Cerda was reassigned after last season, the veteran coach confirmed. Cerda posted a 43-47 record in nine years as the Rockets’ coach.
Kennedy fashioned a 7-3 record last year and went 4-3 in District 29-4A. The Rockets haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2009.
Inco was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Ithaca (N.Y.) College – along with Steve Mohr – in 1990 when Mohr was hired as Trinity’s coach. Mohr retired after 24 years in charge of the Tigers last fall, including an NCAA Division III national runner-up finish in 2002.
Mohr’s sales pitch to the then-lifelong upstate New Yorker included the promise of year-round golf.
“I had no clue about San Antonio,” Inco said, “but once I got here, I’ve enjoyed my time tremendously. I wouldn’t have suspected I’d have this opportunity to enjoy myself down here.”
John Martinez was Kennedy’s coach from 1992 through 1997 when Inco served as the defensive coordinator.
“It was kind of my first high school experience,” Inco said. “The kids worked very hard and were very dedicated. I was surprised at how athletic the kids were.
“Back then, we used to get a lot more kids from the military bases. Only one team from the district went to the playoffs. Back then, we were second and third a lot. But I always liked the attitude of the players and that they were very supportive of what we wanted to do. It was a great experience.”
Inco returned to Trinity, where he had coached the previous two years. He coached the linebackers and defensive line during an 18-year stint at the college.
The Tigers won 16 conference championships and made 12 NCAA Division III playoff appearances under Mohr, who had a 186-74 record.
“Trinity is a great academic institution,” Inco said. “To be as successful as we were on the football field under those high academic standards was very challenging, but we were able to do that.”
Inco was hired at Kennedy just two weeks before the 2013-14 school year ended. His focus has been to implement the Rockets’ summer strength and conditioning program the last few weeks.
“I can tell they’re very athletic,” Inco said. “They’ve been working very hard to get some type of strength and conditioning in. I’ve kind of had to readjust a little bit, because I’m used to college athletes, but the kids have been great.”
Once formal practices begin in August, Inco said he and his staff would put an emphasis on fundamentals.
“We’re very technical,” Inco said. “It still comes down to blocking and tackling.”
The Rockets will be a young team this year, after losing a veteran unit to graduation. Junior quarterback Eric Lira is one of few experienced returning players.
“I think we can compete for the playoffs, but we’re going to be a little young this year,” Inco said. “We have no returning offensive linemen. That’s going to be one of the things we’ll have to develop, but I think they’ll develop.”
Inco has seen enough in a limited time to build anticipation for the season ahead.
“I’m excited about the upcoming year,” Inco said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I think the kids will get after it quite well.
“I’m interested to see what happens when we put pads on in (three) weeks. We’re ready to go.”