There’s been plenty of discussion inside the Santa Maria Times’ office on who should be the Lee Central Coast Newspapers’ 2017 Coach of the Year on the football field.

I’m sure that debate has been held outside of our office among the followers of the prep football scene here. So what I’ll do is this: I’ll present the coaches who, to me, have been deserving of the recognition so far and why.

Here’s my list of worthy candidates:

Andrew Jones, Lompoc: His teams continue to produce equal results year after year. But, if the Braves (8-0, 2-0 in the Los Padres League) survive the CIF Southern Section Division 3 gauntlet and end the year as state champs, then it’ll be hard to say no to Jones being named the area’s top coach.

Josh McClurg, Santa Ynez: So much will likely hinge on how the Pirates (7-1, 1-1 in the LPL) finish out the season and if this time, McClurg and SYHS finally see the playoffs. But nevertheless, McClurg has brought an enthusiasm for football back in the Santa Ynez Valley with his 22-6 mark in the last three seasons.

Doug May, Orcutt Academy: Yes, 8-man coaches deserve love too and what May has done in such a short time is mesmerizing for this charter of school of more than 500 kids. The Spartans have put together a dream season with May roaming the sidelines that include the rout of defending CIF D-I 8-man champ Mojave and the recent win over rival Cate.

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Dan Ellington, Santa Maria: Last year’s winner is in a situation he knows too well: Standing at 4-4 after eight games but 2-0 in the Northern League. Once again, Ellington and the Saints could be due for a winner-take-all battle with Nipomo to close out the season. Credit to Ellington for keeping his guys motivated through all the injuries that have mounted up across the street from JC Penny.  

Ed Herrmann, Righetti: If the Warriors finish out the season at 6-4 and claim a share of the PAC-5 title, then Herrmann becomes my pick for top area coach. Consider: He and the Warriors went 1-9 one year ago. Most schools press the reset button and clean out the coaching staff after a season like that. But RHS stuck with Herrmann and now, he has the Warriors in playoff and league title contention.

Jim Chvala, St. Joseph: Sure, Chvala walked into a talented team at SJHS. But, the interim head coach got the Knights through a murderous schedule that saw Sherman Oaks Norte Dame, Arroyo Grande and St. Bonaventure…and kept the Knights in the LPL title conversation.

Tony Dodge, Nipomo: He and the Titans began the year 0-4. But now, Dodge has his team in contention for the Northern League title once again at 3-5 but 1-0 in the NL. 

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