Coach of the Year
When making a decision about coach of the year there were several items to take in consideration including team performance, overall record, and team schedule. There are several candidates including Maryville coach George Quarles, Hillsboro coach Scott Blade, Knoxville Catholic coach Mark Pemberton, Murfreesboro Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel, Alcoa coach Gary Rankin, Oneida coach Tony Lambert, or Memphis University coach Bobby Alston.
Winning 74 out of 75 games is a phenomenal achievement at any level in any state. There are those critics who claim Tennessee high school football is not as competitive and have tried to take away from the Rebels win streak. For Coach George Quarles the season did not win according to the expectations of Rebel fans, but 74 victories in 75 games including four consecutive state championships helped make for a good run.
Staying in class 4A there are not many coaches that can say they have beaten the Rebels from Maryville, but coach Scott Blade from Hillsboro has joined the fraternity. For Blade, his Hillsboro Burros team capped off a solid season by breaking the Maryville Rebels winning streak with a victory in the class 4A state championship game.
For the Irish of Knoxville-Catholic getting to the state championship game has proven to be a struggle since Coach Mark Pemberton's arrival. Every season it seemed the Irish were always one play away, but in 2008 the Irish broke down the door led by Pemberton with authority. The Irish finished with a convincing 15-0 record and overpowered a very talented Memphis-Mitchell team in the class 3A state championship game.
In class 5A, the Patriots from Murfreesboro-Oakland just seemed to keep on winning. For Coach Thomas McDaniel a strong running game and solid defense proved to be the key for the Patriots and securing the class 5A title. McDaniel made some impressive strides in the 2008 season including a 35-0 victory over Ooltewah on the road.
It would be almost impossible to talk about candidates for Coach of the Year without mentioning Coach Gary Rankin from Alcoa. He has been successful throughout his career including his time at Murfreesboro-Riverdale and Alcoa. The Tornadoes went an impressive 14-1 record and a fifth straight state championship. The scary part for other 2A teams in the state is the fact that the Tornadoes are led by primarily sophomores and juniors.
The fans of Oneida saw one of the best program turnarounds in school history led by Coach Tony Lambert. He took the Indians to a 13-1 record improving on the Indians 7-5 record from 2007. Lambert marched the Indians through the first three rounds of the playoffs before running into a stumbling block against traditional powerhouse Trousdale County.
It is impressive enough to win the state championship in division II AA, but it is even more impressive to finish the season 13-0 in division II AA. To make things even more impressive Coach Bobby Alston and his Memphis-University School Owls went out of state and defeated nationally ranked Olive Branch (Miss.). The Owls were impressive in their playoff run including a 35-7 victory of Nashville-Montgomery Bell Academy and a 38-18 win over Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy.
PrepTennessee.com Coach of the Year
Coach Bobby Alston from Memphis University School