When Brian Lynch watches the oldest of his four sons play at 1 p.m. today in Tampa, it will mark the start of his life's next chapter.
San Diego Chargers safety Corey Lynch, a Cape Coral native, will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team for which he played three seasons from 2009-11 before being let go as a free agent after last year.
Brian Lynch retired after 11 years as the head coach at Evangelical Christian School, just the third in which the Sentinels had a losing record and the first in which he was not coaching one of his sons. Lynch also served as offensive coordinator at ECS for two seasons before taking the top job and coached 10 seasons before that as a Pop Warner football coach in Cape Coral.
"All the kids are out of high school now, and I think he's starting on a different direction in life," said Corey Lynch, who like his three younger brothers, played for his dad ECS.
"He's still dedicated to kids, but he wants to figure out what he wants to do," Corey Lynch said of his father. "Football's not his life, obviously. But he has been coaching for so long and has loved what he has done. After he takes a break and sees what happens, who knows? My dad can't sit still for long. He'll find something to do."
Corey Lynch has remained busy on the football field. A sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008, he played seven games his rookie season. The Buccaneers plucked him off Cincinnati's practice squad Sept. 23, 2009 and over the next three season Lynch played 45 games for Tampa, recording 63 tackles and two interceptions.
Signing as a free agent with the Chargers in the offseason, the 27-year-old Lynch has made 10 tackles and broken up one pass in eight games.
Brian Lynch, a firefighter who works 24-hour shifts every fourth day, has used the bulk of his vacation time from that job over the years in order to create the time to coach football.
The elder This marks the end of the first full week of Brian Lynch being a "retired" high school football coach.
The "retired" appears in quotation marks, as Brian Lynch said it that way.
When Corey Lynch drops back to cover the passing game on third-and-long situations, which has been one of his biggest roles for the Chargers this season, Brian Lynch sometimes will applaud and other times complain about his son's approach.
"The retired thing," said Brian Lynch, 49. "It won't keep me from being a football coach. I always watch the game from a coaching standpoint."
"Am I retired forever as far as coaching? No. Right now, I'm retired as a full-time head coach, because I've had 23 years of coaching, and my wife needs a little bit of my time. I promised her when all the boys got out of football, that we'd do some things we haven't done. We've never gone on long vacations."
As for the other Lynch boys, Calan Lynch lives on Pine Island. Colton Lynch plays cornerback at Harvard University. Colby Lynch plays wide receiver at Division II Florida institute of Technology.
The end, at least for now, of coaching had father and oldest son reflecting upon it.
The Sentinels compiled a 75-45 record under Brian Lynch's leadership. The record surges to 91-52 if you count his two initial seasons as the offensive coordinator.
"We always fed off each other," Corey Lynch said. "My dad knows how to get the most out of his players. His motivation was to be a mentor to the kids."
Corey Lynch recalled the game against Belle Glade Glades Day in 2001 as his most memorable. So did Brian Lynch. The Sentinels had been outscored by a combined 118-8 against Glades Day in 1999-2000.
"Oh man, that was the game that we came out and shocked them," Brian Lynch said. "We had been running one particular play to Corey, a 10-yard out pattern. He kept running down the left-hand side. We ran that play four, five, six times. Corey mentioned to me that their guy was playing so hard on the out, that the out-and-go route was going to be a touchdown."
So with 62 seconds remaining, Corey Lynch caught a 53-yard touchdown pass, taking his team to within one point. The ECS kicker looked at Brian Lynch like he did not want to attempt a point-after-touchdown kick, having missed two earlier. Combine that with fullback Mike Torres demanding the ball for a two-point conversion run attempt, and Brian Lynch obliged to go for the win instead of the tie.
"It was pretty much our go-to play in short yardage," Brian Lynch said. "We ran 'wedge.' Torres got hit in the backfield and ended up carrying a couple of guys with him across the goal-line."
Corey Lynch then picked off a pass on defense, ending the game with a 27-26 victory on Sept. 28, 2001.
"That was the spectacular game," Brian Lynch said. "We were undefeated, they were undefeated. But we were still a young, growing program. I think we were in our fifth year overall. They had won a couple of state championships. We weren't supposed to be competing at that level at that time. We definitely surprised the world."
Brian Lynch couldn't get everything right. His team fell to Fort Meade in the playoffs for five consecutive seasons in 2001-2005. All of those losses were on the road. All of those losses, one in particular, still sting.
"It was one of the very deflating things," Brian Lynch said. "You really understood that if we ever got by them, we could have won a state championship. When you finish five seasons at one place, that's the last game, you ride the bus home, it's a very deflating feeling. No matter what the situation was, they were always one game better than us."
When Brian and Linda Lynch settle into their seats today, they will do so with more ease than in the past.
"It's been a good feeling to have all the time to spend with our kids," said Linda Lynch, who has been married to Brian for 29 years. "They're spread out all over. I think he'll sit back and enjoy it this Sunday. I think it's going to be fun."