Bartram Trail football coach Darrell Sutherland has been nominated by the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award.
Each of the 32 NFL teams nominated an area coach for the honor based on “their character and integrity, leadership and dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success,” the NFL announced on its website.
The 32 nominees will be recognized during the NFL’s Pro Bowl Week, Jan. 22-28, in Orlando. They are scheduled to participate in a coaches’ clinic, enjoy a VIP visit to Pro Bowl practices and attend the USA Football National Conference. Each nominee receives $2,000 for his football program. Two finalists will receive $15,000 from the NFL Foundation, $10,000 of which will go to their programs. The award winner will be announced during the 2018 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium, airing 3 p.m. Jan. 28 on ESPN.
“High school football coaches serve as role models for young athletes and their impact goes well beyond the playing field,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We are proud to honor this year’s nominees who embody the character, integrity and spirit of Coach Shula.”
Sutherland has been the Bears’ head coach since the school opened in 2000. They were the Class 7A state runner-up this season and advanced to at least the regional finals in four of the last five years. But building men is more important to Sutherland than building a winning program.
“It’s quite an honor,” Sutherland said. “Just to have your name associated with Don Shula’s name is quite an honor. I definitely see it as a representative award. I get credit for a lot of people’s hard work. I accept the nomination on behalf of our whole staff.”
Sutherland said the $2,000 will help the Bears purchase more shoulder pads and helmets.
The other Don Shula award nominees from Florida were Tampa Bay Bucs nominee Nate Varnadore of Inverness Citrus and Miami Dolphins nominee Pat Surtain of Plantation American Heritage.
The panel selecting the winner includes former NFL players Michael Strahan, Willie McGinest and Peyton Manning; former coaches Tony Dungy and award namesake Don Shula; former executive Gil Brandt; former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice; Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker; USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck; 2016 winner Randy Allen of Highland Park (Texas); and Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) High Principal Aaron Thomas.