Top Coaching Performances of 2011

By: John Baetz, Kansas Pregame
December 26, 2011 - 2:16 PM

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Generally the top two or three teams in any classification will find the names of their head coach thrown around for coach of the year consideration, and in nearly all cases, rightfully so, but sometimes, coaches whose teams finish with a less than spectacular record don't get the credit they deserve for exceptional coaching across the course of a complete season. Here's a look at a few of my favorites from 2011.


Shawnee Mission East

Chip Sherman has proven in just a few short years in Kansas what the state of Missouri already knew - he can coach some high school football. Last year, in just his second season as the head coach for the Lancers he delivered the most wins (eight) in the 54 year history of the program and while a 6-5 season this year may seem a bit of a let down he led the Lancers to yet another big step in program history advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Add to this the fact that Sherman's team lost much of its offensive production from last year's two-loss season and its top offensive weapon - senior receiver Elliot Faerber - was double covered all season, and Sherman's 6-5 finish that included narrow regular season losses to Olathe East, Olathe South and Shawnee Mission West looks all the more impressive.


After opening the season with consecutive losses to Salina Central (30-27) and Hutchinson (34-13) the Panthers appeared headed for a long year, but fiery young coach Brandon Clark and his staff restored order and led the team on a six game winning streak. In the final regular season game the Panthers appeared poised to upset powerhouse Wichita Heights before an amazing comeback by the Falcons. Clark and his experienced defense rode the momentum into the playoffs and knocked off Wichita Northwest and previously unbeaten Manhattan before suffering a semi-final loss in a rematch with Wichita Heights. The Panthers did all this saddled with a series of key late season injures all the while reloading with yet another young player.



For years Hays High football has struggled through mediocre seasons but third year coach Ryan Cornelsen has change the culture almost overnight and led the team to their first playoff trip in 16 years and did so in thrilling style delivering cardiac wins over Great Bend and Salina South in district play en route to a district championship. As a clear underdog in their playoff opener with eventual state champion Hutchinson the Indians fought valiantly but still found themselves on the short end of a 27-21 loss. Three seasons for Cornelsen at Hays High, three two loss finishes, 22 wins, a district championship and a playoff berth. The future looks bright.


Rose Hill

In this case the state champion Rose Hill Rockets provide one of the most intriguing coaching stories of the year. Greg Slade and his Rose Hill Rockets were the hottest team in all of the Kansas high school ranks at the close of the season knocking off Holton, Andale, Ulysses and Topeka Hayden in impressive fashion. Everyone knows about all-state quarterback Derrick Decker, but the play of their undersized defensive was the real story. With a small, but super fast group of defensive linemen and linebackers the Rockets smothered opposing offenses and allowed more than 14 points in a game only three times all season. Rose Hill's defense posted four shutouts on the season including a 21-0 victory over Eudora in the championship game. An eight-point season opening loss to to Buhler was the only blemish on the Rockets 2011 record.

Check back next week for a look at more notable coaching performances of 2011.

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