NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Titans announced today that James Counce, head football coach of Henry County High School has been named the 2011 Titans High School Football Coach of the Year. The Henry County Patriots (15-0) defeated the Powell Panthers (14-1) 17-14 to capture their first ever Division I-Class AAA state championship.
Counce's Patriots battled continuously in a struggle between unbeaten teams in the state championship. The game was tied 14-14 at the half with both teams displaying great defense in the second half that was scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. Powell made a great defensive stand, keeping Henry County out of the end zone on a fourth and goal from the one yard line early in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots scored the winning points with a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Kyler Ainley with 1:57 remaining in the game, giving Henry County a 17-14 lead. Counce's Patriots were able to secure their championship by recovering a Powell fumble caused by a sack and strip with :31 seconds remaining in the game.
"Our team did a great job," said Counce. "This is a great community with great support and everybody is on cloud nine."
Lennies McFerren, principal at Henry County, offered high praise for his head coach!
"Since Coach Counce set foot on campus, only great things have happened," said McFerren. "He is probably one of the best coaches I have ever been around in my 37 years in education. Coach is tough and a man among men."
Through the Titans Foundation, team owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. will make a $2,000 contribution to the Henry County High School football program in Coach Counce's honor.
"High school football enjoys a great tradition in Tennessee," said Adams. "That tradition is based not only on the outstanding quality of play but on the devotion of their coaches who continue to develop high school football players into young men of strong character. I'm very pleased to underwrite this program that recognizes the efforts of so many talented high school coaches across the state!"
Coach Counce will receive his grant and be recognized Sunday prior to the Titans-Saints game, where the Titans will also recognize the 10 weekly 2011 Titans Coach of the Week winners. The Coach of the Year and all 10 Coaches of the Week will be will be available for interviews / photos in the Titans post-game interview room at 10:45 am Sunday!
Now in its 13th season, the Adams has awarded more than $149,000 from the Titans Foundation to football programs across the state in honor of the Coach of the Year and Coach of the Week winners.
The criterion for selection includes the coach's impact on his team, school and community. A statewide media panel votes each week to determine the weekly winner. All high school football coaches in Tennessee, regardless of their school's size, league, or division, are eligible to be selected each week. The program is designed to recognize high school coaches who transform, through their hard work and dedication, student-athletes into the best possible football players and citizens in their community.