Coach of the Year nominees in a collage, from left to right: T.J. Carper of Vinton County, Chris Crabtree of Waverly, Melvin Cunningham of Fairland, Tony Hurps of Berne Union, Cam West of Tri-Valley

Gridiron Glory set to honor one southeast Ohio coach as the best of 2021

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Gridiron Glory is honoring one southeast Ohio football coach as the Coach of the Year for the 2021 football season. While many teams have exceeded expectations this season, these five coaches were selected for their achievements on the Gridiron in 2021.

T.J. Carper | Vinton County Vikings

T.J. Carper took over the Vikings this off-season and brought them to new heights in 2021.

Since 2004, the Vikings haven’t finished a season above .500, nor have they qualified for the playoffs. Carper helped the Vikings break both of those streaks in his first year as head coach.

Chris Crabtree | Waverly Tigers

Chris Crabtree watched a stellar senior class walk out the door in 2020 after the Tigers had one of their best seasons in school history. Waverly reloaded and was ranked in the top 10 of the Ohio AP football poll for Division IV for a majority of the regular season.

Waverly’s lone regular season loss came to conference rival Wheelersburg in a thriller. That loss cost the Tigers a conference title, but they still received the fifth seed in Division IV Region 16.

Waverly came back from an 18-0 halftime deficit in its first round playoff game before falling to state powerhouse Clinton-Massie for a second straight season.

Melvin Cunningham | Fairland Dragons

Melvin Cunningham has seen Fairland through a slow rebuild — now, he and the Dragons have reached new heights. After going 0-10 in 2015, the year before Cunningham took over, it took just two seasons for Fairland to go above .500, and only one more to make the playoffs.

After making the Dragons competitive, Cunningham brought the program to new heights the past two seasons, winning the first playoff game in school history in 2020 before falling to Fort Frye in the regional title game.

For an encore, Cunningham led the Dragons to an 8-1 regular season, with their one loss coming in overtime to Ironton in a game Cunningham couldn’t coach at due to a positive Covid test.

Tony Hurps | Berne Union Rockets

Tony Hurps led Berne Union to its first unbeaten regular season since 1986 and a second straight MSL conference title.

The Rockets used their explosive offense to score 40 or more points in every game but one this season. That one game was the Rockets’ playoff defeat to River in the regional quarterfinals.

Cam West | Tri-Valley Scotties

Cam West, a former Gridiron Glory player of the year, is now up for coach of the year after leading the Scotties to this year’s MVL title.

Tri-Valley had an inexperienced roster with a new starter at quarterback heading into the season. By the end of the year, QB Drew Burkhart was named to Gridiron Glory’s player of the year watchlist, and West led the Scotties to a 8-1 regular season and unbeaten conference mark.