Schutt - High School Coaches of the Year Regionalby: Mike KucharSenior Writer, American Football Monthly
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Chuck Kyle • St. Ignatius High School (OH)
Ohio is high school football and Chuck Kyle at St. Ignatius is Ohio football at its best. Kyle, the longtime legend at the parochial school in Cleveland, is known for racking up state championships, and he capped this season off by winning his tenth in his 26 years as the head coach of his alma mater. Just don't ask him if this one was most memorable. “It likes comparing children,” says Kyle. “Every one of them is different in their own way.”
What isn't different is the way in which Kyle goes about preparing his players year after year. “My purpose every year is to prepare my kids mentally, physically and spiritually for any challenge that they may encounter,” said Kyle. He's been doing a terrific job of it. His .816 win percentage is tops among all active Ohio football coaches and he's been to the playoffs in each of his last twenty seasons, with his latest venture ending in a 28-20 win over Elder High School in December. It was Kyle's first state championship since 2001. Kyle has just turned 58, so all indications are it probably won't be his last.
Chris Miller • Byrnes High School (SC)
Chris Miller preaches offensive balance and it seems that his players are practicing what he preaches. The Byrnes High School Rebels produced another terrific season in 2008 and they did it with a dominating offensive attack. Miller had a QB that passed for 2,397 yards and a running back that rushed for 1,755 yards to produce one of the best seasons in Byrnes High School history with a 15-0 record.
One year after coming off of a tremendous victory to beat nearby powerhouse Summerville High School and win the state championship, Miller and Byrnes repeated their success by again winning the South Carolina Class AAAA State Championship. In fact, Miller and his Rebels have finished three of the last five seasons undefeated and have won five state championships in the last six seasons. So while Byrnes produces plenty of balance when it moves the chains on offense, the rest of the league – and state for that matter – can only hope for such parity in competition in the years to come.
Matt Logan • Centennial High School (CA)
It took Matt Logan twelve years, but he finally got over the hump. Logan’s Huskies just wrapped up their first state championship in school history and his first as a coach. It capped off a tremendous season that saw the Huskies go undefeated, a perfect 15-0 in 2008. With the honors come the accolades: Logan has not only been named the West Region Schutt Sports Coach of the Year, but he has also been tabbed the NFL/ABC Coach of the Year. During his tenure at Centennial, Logan has engineered the Huskies to eight league championships and five county championships, with a 123-31 career record.
Logan credits two factors to his recent success: an up-tempo practice and a year-long conditioning program that generates competition. Logan emphasizes the sudden change component in practice where at the drop of a hat, or the blow of a whistle, his players find themselves going full tilt in some type of specialized drill. “Whether it’s seven on seven, inside run or a red zone period when that whistle blows we go at it,” said Logan. “Our players know that at any moment, things can change and we have to be ready to act. We do our best to simulate that as much as possible during practice conditions. And it’s worked.”
Tom Westerberg • Allen High School (TX)
“Start strong, finish strong.” That was the motto that the Allen High School football players chose to begin their 2008 off-season campaign. It was an off-season that began, not so coincidentally, the day after a first round playoff lost in 2007 after going 10-0 during the regular season. “The juniors that got beat in that game were furious,” said Tom Westerberg, the Southwest Region Schutt Sports Coach of the Year. “They took it personal and made it a goal and said it would never happen again. We admitted that we’re not going to sit around and just take that loss without redemption.”
Redemption would come, but at a price. Westerberg’s starting QB would go down in November with a season-ending injury, only to have his backup fill the role successfully, leading the school to its first-ever Class 5A Division I state championship. It was a major feat for a school that has been playing football since 1936. “Playing football here is a big deal,” said Westerberg, who has over 1,100 kids in the program – the fourth largest high school in the state. “So doing this was as good for the kids as it was for the town.”
“We had to get them to start to enjoy coming to practice. We would get them to compete in practice. You have to do things like that to keep them fresh, especially in Texas where if you want to go all the way you wind up playing 16 games, like an NFL season.” Westerberg not only credits the success of his program by keeping his kids healthy, but by also switching his defensive scheme from a year ago. “We switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense this year because we were seeing so many spread teams and our personnel would better fit it. We had more linebackers that can play than defensive lineman so it worked perfectly.”
Tim Moncman • Liberty High School (PA)
Western Pennsylvania has a long tradition in football, no secret there. You know you bleed football when Penn State wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary speaks in your auditorium during “spirit week.” Tradition runs deep for the Hurricanes, and apparently so does persistence. Liberty, after starting off the year with an opening day loss, rallied to win their next fifteen games including the Pennsylvania Class AAAA state championship - its first in school history.
Tim Moncman and his team won this season because of a dynamic offense that averaged 33.6 points per game and a stingy defense that yielded only 13 points per game – posting three shutouts. It was only fitting that Moncman ran the defense himself, as they seemed to carry the Hurricanes all year and into the playoffs. “You win championships on defense, that’s a given,” said Moncman. “We were able to put kids in the right spots to make plays. They just executed and did what we asked them to.”