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 2018. 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 their 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 2018 FNF Coaches of the Year. Congratulations to all who won and all other state champion coaches who were considered.

The FNF Coaches: Coaches of the Year

STATE HIGH SCHOOL COACH SIGNATURE ACHIEVEMENT
North Carolina Weddington Andy Capone Capone led the school to its second state title in school history one year after leading his team to the highest GPA among football teams across the state.
New Jersey Willingboro Steve Everette Willingboro won its sectional crown in 33 years. Everette’s style and charisma helped his team forget about its struggles in the past.
Colorado Limon Mike O’Dwyer Limon won its first state title since 2005, a long drought for the school with 18 championships.
Minnesota Lakeville North Brian Vossen Lakeville North won its first state championship since splitting into two schools, beating the Goliath of 6A, Eden Prairie, in the state title game.
Michigan New Lothrop Clint Galvas New Lothop played in the highest scoring state championship game in state history with 94 total points, winning its first state title since 2006.
California Wilcox Paul Rosa Wilcox posted two consecutive last-minute upsets in the semis and finals to win the first state title in program history.
Georgia Milton Adam Clack It was the first state championship in school history for Milton (13-2), who pulled off the upset with a victory over Colquitt County.
South Carolina Green Sea Floyds Donnie Kiefer Green Sea Floyds won the first state title for the school in any sport. The team is just two years removed from a winless season.
Illinois Monticello Cullen Welter Monticello won its first state title in school history. Welter’s teams had lost in the semifinal six times in 10 years.
Alabama Flomaton Doug Vickery First state championship in Vickery’s 13 years, program was a laughing stock when he got there.
Alaska Eielson David DeVaughn With so many teams switching to the spread offense, DeVaughn, a USA Football coach, stuck to his guns and won with the Wing-T.
Arizona Superior Ryan Palmer Superior won its first state title in 64 years. Palmer started as head coach 10 years ago at age 22 by knocking on doors to find players.
Arkansas Bryant Buck James Bryant took down defending Class 7A state champion North Little Rock 27-7 for its first state championship.
Connecticut Greenwich John Marinelli Marinelli beat his father, New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli, in the championship game. It was the first state title for Greenwich since 2007.
Delaware Sussex Central John Wells Sussex Central was 0-4 in state title games — and was one of only two Henlopen Conference programs without a state championship.
Florida Lakeland Bill Castle Lakeland coach Bill Castle led his team to a state title in each of the last four decades (1986, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2018).
Hawaii Waipahu Bryson Carvalho Waipahu knocked off the state champions after eeking out a 20-19 win in the semifinals for its first state title.
Idaho Hillcrest Kevin Meyer Hillcrest went big in the state final, scoring the most points on Bishop Kelly since 1999. It was the second state title in school history.
Iowa New London Mark McSorley New London won its first state title (8-player) in school history, and the school’s first IHSAA team title since outdoor track in 1959.
Kansas Derby Brandon Clark Derby exacted revenge on the team that beat them in the final last year.
Kentucky Beechwood Noel Rash Beechwood won its championship in dramatic fashion 21-20 thanks to a late-game interception in the end zone.
Louisiana Eunice Paul Trosclair For the first time in 36 years, the Bobcats returned to southwest Louisiana with a high school state football championship.
Maine Thornton Academy Kevin Kezal Thornton Academy had its first unbeaten season since 1986, and clinched the feat by beating a team that made the state finals three times in four years.
Maryland Quince Orchard John Kelley Quince Orchard slayed the dragon that was Henry A. Wise, the three-time defending Class 4A state champions, with a 31-6 victory in the semifinals to avenge losses in the 2012, 2016 and 2017 championship games.
Massachusetts Stoneham Bob Almeida Stoneham had never won a state title and hadn’t played in a final since 1994.
Mississippi Louisville M.C. Miller Louisville sent retiring coach M.C. Miller out on top by clinching his second state championship at the school.
Missouri Trinity Catholic Terrence Curry First-year coach Curry led Trinity Catholic to its first state title in program history after being Class 2 runner-up in 2016 and district runner-up in 2017.
Montana Billings West Rob Stanton Billings West won the state final on a goal-line stand as time expired for its first championship since 2005.
Nebraska Centennial Evan Klanecky Centennial needed a fourth-down conversion on its first overtime possession to score, Klanecky went for 2, and they won the first state title in school history.
Nevada Bishop Manogue Ernie Howren Bishop Manogue won its first state title in program history by beating powerhouse Bishop Gorman in the state final.
New Hampshire Winnisquam Pat Riberdy Winnisquam beat rival Franklin (3 miles down the road) in the state championship game.
New Mexico La Cueva Brandon Back La Cueva won for the first time since 2009 with the top defense in the state. The champs beat the top offense (Cleveland) in the state final.
New York Susquehanna Valley Mike Ford Susquehanna had never advanced to a state final in school history before beating a four-time state champ in the final.
North Dakota Langdon-Edmore-Munich Josh Krivarchka L-E-M made the state final last year and lost. This year, the co-op team completed the journey.
Ohio St. Edward Tom Lombardo St. Edward became just the fourth team in Ohio high school football history to win a state championship after entering the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed.
Oklahoma Broken Arrow David Alexander Broken Arrow won its first state title in school history. The state final was delayed in the fourth quarter with Broken Arrow leading Jenks 28-20. The game restarted at 11:45 p.m., and the Tigers held on.
Oregon Thurston Justin Starck The Colts’ first-ever title came only after they survived by blocking two attempts at a tying kick.
Pennsylvania Aliquippa Mike Warfield Aliquippa won its first state title since 2003. First-year coach Warfield put them over the top after a lot of near-misses.
Rhode Island Central Falls Jeff Lapierre Central Falls played all of its games on the road for the past two seasons due to contaminated soil at Macomber Stadium.
South Dakota Bon Homme Byron Pudwill Bon Homme won its first state championship since 1995 and overcame a 20-0 deficit in the state final.
Tennessee Whitwell Randall Boldin Whitwell reached a state championship game for the first time in program history, rallied for a fourth-quarter score, then held off a desperation drive by Cornersville.
Texas Longview John King Longview won its first state title since 1937.
Utah Lone Peak Bart Brockbank Lone Peak lost to eventual state final opponent American Fork 51-21 on Sept. 21.
Vermont Mt. Mansfield Union Marty Richards This marked the first state title in Mt. Mansfield school history.
Virginia Highland Springs Tony Palmer Highland Springs posted its first state championship since 1995 with a Purdue-bound quarterback.
Washington Colville Randy Cornwell Four years ago, Colville came as close to winning a State 1A championship as possible without getting it done, losing by a point in overtime to Cascade Christian. This year, they won their first state title in a blowout win over Newport.
West Virginia Fairmont Nick Bartic Fairmont won its first football title since 1946 and first WVSSAC championship in any sport since 1947.
Wisconsin Muskego Ken Krause Muskego ended Kimberly’s 5-year championship reign with its first state title in school history.
Wyoming Buffalo Rob Hammond Buffalo overcame a slew of injuries to win its first state title since 2005.
Indiana Western Boone Justin Pelley Western Boone captured its second football state title 30 years after its first.

About the author

Dan Guttenplan