The choices are in for SW Ohio Division I Coaches of the year. I found four coaches I felt needed to get some credit for a job well done.

The process of looking to award honors for the 2003 football season has started. While most of the people sending info for the honors are from the Southwest, we will be putting together coaches and players from around the state and in all Divisions of play.

Today I look at the top coaches in Division One from the Southwest part of the state. During my process of picking a Coach Of The Year, I found more than one coach who deserved praise for his teams on field performance. Who were my choices for SW Coach of The Year?

1. Steve Sheehan - Cincinnati Oak Hills - Coach Sheehan took a group of men from the time they were freshmen and developed them into one of Oak Hills better teams in years. They finished 2003 with a 6 - 4 record and a big win over Huber Heights Wayne to start the season. They even pushed defending State Champion Cincinnati Elder to the edge before losing 24-21 in the final week of the season. In 2002 the Highlanders were 3 - 7 and finished in 9th place in the Greater Miami Conference.

2. Gary Popovich - Mason High School - Coach Popovich saw great improvement in the Comets in 2003. Going from a 5-5 team, to one with a 9-1 record and a playoff berth. Playing in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division, the Comets finished 2002 in 5th place. This year they saw defeat during the regular season come only from Harrison. In the first round of the Region 4 playoffs they were beat by Clayton Northmont.

3. Jon Rommel - Springfield North High School - The Panthers were 2 - 8 in 2002. The Panthers only turned in a 5-5 mark for 2003, but they played 7 teams with over 500. Records. 4 of those teams made the playoffs. The 2003 season saw the Panthers show their best improvement in years. They are young and look to have a future in the ever hard GWOC. Time will only tell if they can get over the hump, but from the North teams I have seen play in the past 7 years, It looks like the are starting to turn the corner.

4. Brian Dodds - Cincinnati Princeton - As the new head coach of Princeton, Coach Dodds didn't take over a program that didn't know how to win, just one that's not lived up to the traditions set many years ago. Having moved from Florida during the summer and taking control of a new group of kids and coaches didn't stop the Vikings from taking their 7-3 mark of 2002 and improving it to 8-2 and just missing the playoffs. When the Crosstown Showdown played in week one, I saw a team that didn't believe in themselves, by week 10 they knew what was expected and how to get the job done. While they may have come up short, the Cincinnati area better be ready for the Princeton Vikings in 2004.

Coming up with one coach in the DI Southwest part of the state was hard. Each coach brought something different to the table and had different areas of concern going into the 2003 season. Each showed great leadership and the willingness to show a group of kids how to get the job done.

Be on the lookout for more post season honors in the weeks to come. We don't have a timeline to finish so give us some time. If you know of a player or coach that should be given consideration, please e-mail me with there name, school, stats and why you feel they should be considered.

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