STORIES TO INSPIRE

FNF Coaches names 50 Coach of the Year recipients

Selecting one state champion coach in each state proved to be a difficult task for our editorial staff with so many deserving coaches across the country.

Our criteria for consideration included all state champion coaches in 2019. We looked for coaches that led teams to championships for the first time in school history, coaches who led championship runs as underdogs, coaches who helped players overcome adversity, and coaches who made tough decisions in the biggest moments to help their teams break through.

We couldn’t be more proud of our 2019 FNF Coaches of the Year. Congratulations to all who won and all other state champion coaches who were considered.

STATE HIGH SCHOOL COACH SIGNATURE ACHIEVEMENT
Alabama Thompson Mark Freeman The state title by coach Mark Freeman’s Warriors (12-1) was the first in Class 7A and the second overall in school history and a culminate a rise out of the ashes – taking a program that was 0-10 the year before he arrive and five years later won the state title.
Alaska Anchorage’s South High School Walter Harmon The win over their south-side rivals capped a remarkable playoff run by the Wolverines, who lost three of their final four regular-season games before getting hot at the right time.
Arizona Liberty (Peoria) Mark Smith This was the first big-school title game to go overtime since 2003 when Hamilton edged Mesa Mountain View in three OTs. It’s the first football championship in Liberty’s 14-year history.
Arkansas Searcy Mark Kelley Searcy won its second state championship, notching a 28-27 victory over Benton in the Class 6A title game. The Lions (12-1), the 6A-East Conference champion, had not won a title since 1933 and were playing in their first championship game since 1984.
California Milpitas Kelly King By the time the clock was ticking down from 2 minutes, players on both sidelines and every spectator in the wet bleachers at Milpitas High knew the outcome: The Trojans were about to complete their turnaround from 1-6 all the way to 5-A CIF state champions.
Colorado Sterling Rob Busmente Sterling had trouble moving the ball at times, but big defensive plays and a little trickery powered the Tigers to a 27-19 win over Delta to claim the Class 2A football crown, the first football title in program history.
Connecticut Newtown High Bobby Pattison Newtown marked the seventh anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School with vigils, church services and a moment of joy when the community’s high school football team — with a shooting victim’s brother as linebacker — won the state championship Saturday in a last-minute thrill.
Delaware Hodgson Frank Moffett Jr. Hodgson grabbed the Division I title with a resounding 54-31 win over Middletown. It was Delaware’s highest scoring state football championship game ever. The win gives the Silver Eagles their first ever Division I crown and caps off a perfect 12-0 season.
Florida 3A Madison County Mike Coe This senior class goes out with a 50-4 record over the last four seasons with back to three consecutive state championships.
Georgia Marietta Richard Morgan No. 18 Marietta (Ga.) won its first state title in 52 years beating No. 9 Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.) 17-9 to capture the 7A state championship.
Hawaii Hilo High Kaeo Drummondo A Hawaii high school football player needed a miracle to help his team win the state championship game – and got one. Keanu Keolanui, from Hilo High School, hit a 55-yard field goal to send his team home winners of the HHSAA Division 1 championship over the ‘Iolani Raiders.
Idaho Kuna Kuna coach Sherm Blaser Kuna and its high-flying offense soared past Blackfoot 49-35 in the 4A state championship game at Holt Arena, clinching the Kavemen (13-0) their first perfect season and first 4A state title in program history.
Illinois Williamsville Aaron Kunz Junior quarterback Conor McCormick rifled the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Brendon Bishop and the Bullets rallied to a 46-42 victory over Byron for the program’s first ever state title.
Indiana Carmel John Hebert Carmel built up a 17-point lead through three quarters and held on for a 20-17 victory over error-prone Center Grove in the Class 6-A high school football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Carmel lost to Warren Central in last year’s state championship game.
Iowa Ida Grove OABCIG Coach Larry Allen This was the first championship game appearance for OABCIG, or any of its previous iterations.
Kansas Mill Valley Joel Applebee After a 1-3 start to the season, the Jaguars won nine in a row, beating No. 1 seed De Soto and heavily favored Aquinas in the playoffs. The Jaguars ended a storybook season by beating three straight undefeated teams.
Kentucky Johnson Central (Paintsville) Jim Matney The Golden Eagles defeated Boyle County 21-20. Despite a slow start on the first two drives, Johnson Central was able to go shot for shot with the Rebels. Four Boyle County turnovers helped Johnson Central get the win.
Louisiana Ferriday Stanley Smith Ferriday senior quarterback Kobe Dillon accounted all four Trojan touchdowns in the first half as they won, 56-17, over Many in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for its first state title since 1956.
Maine Leavitt Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway Leavitt scored two-point conversions after three of its four touchdowns, while MCI came up empty on extra points after each of its scores, with a missed kick followed by three two-point tries that came up short.
Maryland Cacoctin Doug Williams Catoctin has a pair of coaches who have really done it for a long time — head coach Doug Williams and assistant Paul DuMars. Some players those two guided to the 2009 state title, including quarterback Dylan May and running back-linebacker Paul Barbour, returned to watch them and their current players earn the program’s second state crown.
Massachusetts Ashland Andrew MacKay The victory secured some serious face-time with the owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft, and marked the first Super Bowl title for Ashland since 1995.
Michigan Davison Jake Weingartz The Cardinals won the school’s first state title after losing two of the final three games in the regular season.
Minnesota Blooming Prairie Chad Gimbel Blooming Prairie’s 41-15 win over No. 1-ranked BOLD in the Class A Prep Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium not only gave the program its first state title in football, but it got rid of the bad taste it had endured since losing in lopsided fashion to BOLD a year ago in the state semifinals.
Mississippi Corinth Todd Lowery Corinth (14-1) finished a dominant run through the postseason with a 55-21 victory over the Hornets in the Class 4A state championship to earn the school’s first football state title.
Missouri De Smet Robert Steeples The 14-0 Spartans won their first state title since 2005, when their current head coach Robert Steeples was still just a player. Between 2016 and 2017, the Spartans managed just three wins.
Montana Jordan Wyatt Colvin In a rematch of 2018, the Jordan Mustangs took advantage early and never looked back on their way to a 70-14 win over Wibaux in the 2019 6-Man state championship. It’s Jordan’s first football state title.
Nebraska Oakland-Craig Knights coach Joe Anderson Oakland-Craig (13-0) broke a 23-year title drought. But this was its first win in the stadium. It won at Hastings St. Cecilia 27-13 in 1995 in a game played at Hastings’ historic Duncan Field.
Nevada Liberty Rich Muraco Nobody other than Bishop Gorman could say it accomplished a Class 4A state football title since 2008 until the Patriots won their first. Liberty ended Gorman’s 10-year reign atop the state earlier in the playoffs and left no doubt that it was the best this season with a 50-7 win over Centennial at Sam Boyd Stadium.
New Hampshire Londonderry Jimmy Lauzon The victory capped an unbeaten season for Londonderry (12-0). It was the program’s first state championship since 1998, when Londonderry beat Concord 33-7 for the Division I title.
New Jersey Wayne Valley Roger Kotlarz The Indians captured the North Group 4 Regional championship by rallying from a 17-point deficit against Northern Highlands and avenging a regular-season loss with a 21-17 victory.
New Mexico Melrose Caleb King The NMAA State Title won by the Melrose 8-man football team is the first state championship win for coach Caleb King in his second year as the head football coach for Melrose.
New York Lindenhurst Nick Lombardo Lindenhurst came back from a 13-point deficit for a 14-13 win over Garden City in the Long Island Class II championship game. The comeback denied Garden City (10-2) a fourth straight Class II title, which would have been a Long Island record for any class.
North Carolina Vance Glenwood Ferebee Vance High School finally got the football state championship it coveted. After losing 9-7 to Wake Forest in the 2018 state final, Vance won emphatically 24-3 to win the first state championship in school history.
North Dakota Kidder County KC coach Jack Biesterfeld Kidder County, making its first Dakota Bowl appearance, finished 11-1. Cavalier closed at 12-1. Kidder County had 30 points at halftime and the Wolves went on to defeat Cavalier 54-32 in the North Dakota 9-man high school football championship game.
Ohio Trotwood-Madison Jeff Graham The Rams (12-3) overcame the fallout of the Memorial Day tornado outbreak that ravaged its community and affected the program.
Oklahoma Poteau Greg Werner There was still something missing from Poteau’s resume. On a windy afternoon at Wantland Stadium, the Pirates finally got something which had eluded them in the past, especially in recent seasons — a gold ball, symbolizing a state championship.
Oregon La Grande Rich McIlvoil The Tigers answered the last of them with an 21-0 exclamation-point victory over No. 1 Banks in the OSAA/Online Community Credit Union 4A championship. The Tigers (12-0) had not won a state title since 1974.
Pennsylvania Wyoming Area Randy Spencer Down 14-0 in the fourth quarter, the Wyoming Area football rallied past Central Valley, scoring 21 unanswered points to win the PIAA Class “AAA” Championship 21-14. The title marks the first state football championship in school history.
Rhode Island Pilgrim Blake Simpson The Pilgrim Patriots earned their first Super Bowl win since 1975 with a 22-14 win over Tolman to complete their undefeated season.
South Carolina Saluda Stewart Young Senior quarterback Noah Bell scored six touchdowns as Saluda defeated Barnwell, 39-14, and the Tigers won the Class 2A state championship at Benedict College. The state title is the Tigers’ first since 1963 and completes an improbable run through the playoffs this season.
South Dakota Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan Coach Jeff VanLeur Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan recorded its first 11-man crown in the South Dakota state championship game.
Tennessee Elizabethton Shawn Witten In the first-ever meeting between Elizabethton and Springfield, the Cyclones claimed their first state championship win since 1938.
Texas Austin Westlake Todd Dodge Westlake, which is coached by former Southlake Carroll coach Todd Dodge, wins its first UIL state football title since 1996 when it was led by future NFL hall-of-famer Drew Brees.
Utah Sky View Chris Howell In Class 4A, Sky View dominated Park City 35-0 to win its first ever state championship.
Vermont Poultney Dave Capman Denied on the same turf 364 days ago, the Poultney Blue Devils were back for their second crack at the big one.
Virginia South County Gerry Pannoni In a 14-13 win over perennial power Oscar Smith, the Stallions displayed the defining traits of the culture they espouse: They didn’t allow a point in the second half and they summoned all possible strength to hold on for the first state title in program history.
Washington Onalaska Mason Saade It’s been over 30 years since Onalaska last won a Class 2B state football championship.
West Virginia Bridgeport John Cole Bridgeport rallied for a 21-14 victory against big-play Bluefield in the Class AA title game at Wheeling Island Stadium. The win avenges a pair of losses for the Indians against the Beavers in the playoff semifinal round the last two seasons.
Wisconsin DeForest Mike Minick It seemed DeForest was down for the count, but the Norskies put together an epic drive in the final minute and made a two-point conversion for the ages to down Menasha 8-7 in the WIAA Division 3 state championship game.
Wyoming Mountain View Brent Walk Mountain View won its 11th straight game in a matchup of the state’s top two teams. Buffalo, the defending state champion, lost for the first time in 11 games this season and saw its 20-game winning streak snapped by the Buffaloes.